Monthly Archives: December 2007

Does the Holy Spirit in Person Help the Christian Today? (Series #2)

by Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.

In the first series we made a comparison how Satan does his work and how the Holy Spirit works. If one believes that the Devil in person does his work of urging, nudging, encouraging, influencing, and guiding people that he tempts today, it would be unreasonable to deny the Holy Spirit the same personal action of urging, nudging, encouraging, influencing and guiding Christians. We have shown scriptures that the Holy Spirit could use the heavenly bodies to help create belief and partially know God without the Bible. We have shown that angels could be sent as personal messengers to help Christians. Thus it is clear that urging, nudging, encouraging, influencing and guiding to help Christians is not always and only through the oral/written Bible.

In this second lesson (series #2) we focus on the expression “personal indwelling” of the Holy Spirit. The term “indwelling” has been defined by two Filipino preachers who debated the issue this year as “guidance or influence of the Holy Spirit.” Care should be taken, however, not to create a dimensionalized abode or residence. We should not think of God (the Holy Spirit by extension) as present in heaven but not on earth. Or that when the Holy Spirit is felt on earth that He is not in heaven.

A very basic foundation in the understanding of this issue of “indwelling” is our acceptance of terms and principles recognized in dogmatic theology like omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, transcendence and immanence as attributes of the Godhead.

Claude B. Moss gives these definitions: “transcendence – God is above, beyond and outside all that He has made” and “immanence – God is inside all that He has made, as well as outside; He is the Creator, Preserver and Sustainer of all creation,” (The Christian Faith, pp. 15,16).

If the five terms above are recognized and accepted, then the debate should stop.

If God (the Holy Spirit by extension) is omnipresent and He is immanent, and we believe that there are three persons in the Godhead, then the immanent presence of the Holy Spirit is personal. Could we think of a corner of the universe where the omnipresent God (the Holy Spirit by extension) is not present in person?

Just to exercise our readers’ minds, may I force you to wrestle with the following questions so that you can go higher into the spiritual realm. Please read John 17:20-26 and answer the following:

  1. How are all true believers one? (see vs. 21, 22)
  2. How are the Father and the Son one? (vs. 21, 22)
  3. How is the Father in (inside) Jesus Christ? (v. 21)
  4. How is Jesus Christ in (inside) the Father? (v. 21)
  5. How is Jesus Christ in (inside) all true believers? (vs. 23, 26)
  6. How can person A be inside person B; but at the same time person B is inside person A?

Focalized Presence

Immanence, however, is not the same as focalized presence where help, urging, nudging, encouragement, influence, guidance is felt in some measure among chosen disciples. Think of the time that the Holy Spirit in a special way was with Jesus during His baptism at the Jordan River and in many miraculous works where Jesus demonstrated the explosions of the Holy Spirit’s power. On the other hand, think of the time of His arrest at Gethsemane and during the trial and crucifixion. Think of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit’s exploding power was with Peter, but not during his arrest and imprisonment in Acts 4. The conclusion is that God (the Holy Spirit by extension) is omnipresent and omnipotent, but would only display sporadic presence and power that are felt by human senses.

During the Exodus, God was omnipresent but it was only at the locality of Mt. Sinai that God’s exploding grandeur and power was sensed by humanity. In like manner today, there are chosen people where the Holy Spirit chooses to nudge, urge, encourage, influence and guide according to the measure of the need, the intensity of the supplication for help that is lifted up to the heavens and the welcoming attitude of the individuals’ heart.

Indwelling

God (the Holy Spirit by extension) promised to dwell among the children of Israel (see 1 Kings 6:13), but God’s glorious personal presence did not explode in every corner of Canaan where the 12 tribes settled down. Neither was there a continuous day and night glorious personal presence exploding in the tabernacle and temple. There were only sporadic shekinahs in the holy of holies.

King Solomon said, “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1Kings 8:27). The LORD says, “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool, where is the house that you will build me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 61:1)

Colossians 2:9 says, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” If you want to insist on an Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) minister that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in that human body of Jesus Christ, why can’t you accept that the Holy Spirit can dwell in your human body? If we say that only through the word, the Bible, that the Holy Spirit would indwell the Christian, then it would follow that only through the word, the Bible, did the Godhead dwell in Jesus bodily.

These few verses quoted above express the simultaneous transcendence and immanence of God in the universe. Yes, it is difficult to accept this thing if our minds dwell in the dimensionalized material world. But we are talking about a spiritual persona. This should be accepted as true even if it could not be satisfactorily demonstrated physically, just as the Trinity is true yet it remains difficult to explain how three persons is one God. It is difficult to explain mathematically how the Father is in the Son, and at the same time the Son is in the Father.

There are what we call antinomies, seeming contradictions, but these things are true. They have to be accepted by faith because these things are in the higher realm.

(To be continued)

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Leadership Training Class Does Personal Evangelism

The Leadership Training Class that usually meets in San Mateo, Isabela transferred the venue to Diffun, Quirino on December 15. In the morning they had a lecture, but in the afternoon they knocked on doors and visited previous prospects. One visible result this set up was the baptism on Dec. 15 of sister Brigida Baniega who had been taught by Reggie Valdez and Francing Lumandaz. (Edward Tangunan)

Lecture Series at the Rabon Bible College

Rabon Bible College in Pangasinan, in cooperation with Philippine Bible College Alumni Association, sponsors a series of lectures on church issues to acquaint the younger generation with what happened in the past decades but these still linger among Philippine churches. The first of this series was conducted on Dec. 15 at the Rabon chapel in San Fabian town.

Brother Eusebio Tanicala presented the biblical basis of preaching schools/Bible Colleges as educational or training programs of congregations. In conjunction with Bible Colleges, the biblical basis of inter-congregational cooperation was also discussed. On the other hand, brother Jovencio Gundayao started his series on the person and gifts/influences of the Holy Spirit on Christians today. Brother Gundayao takes the position that aside from the influence through the Bible as processed by the mind, the Holy Spirit may also influence/nudge Christians. The second session will be on January 5 in the same venue.

Does the Holy Spirit Personally Help a Christian in the 21st Century? (Series #1)

by Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.

Members of the Churches of Christ believe that the Holy Spirit is a person, the third person in the Trinity. The question in this series is “Does the Holy Spirit directly or in person work,help, urge, nudge, influence, encourage, guide a Christian today?

It is an accepted issue that the Holy Spirit helps, urges, nudges, encourages, guides a Christian today through the Bible, through the word. But this writer denies that the Holy Spirit always and only work through the Bible in helping, urging, nudging, encouraging, guiding a Christian. “Thro the word only” means that a Christian has to always read/hear the Bible, then process the information in his mind (brain) and what is shifted and accepted becomes his conviction and persuasion. This position of “thro the word only” is too limited. .

The “thro the word only” is like the idea that Karl Marx or Jose Rizal could influence the 21st century man through their literary works only that are read or propagandized by ideologists. Their spiritual persons could not transmit any message or nudging to the minds and hearts of communists and Rizalists. Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is in the heavens, but He is as limited as the spirit of Karl Marx or the soul of Rizal?

This series of short articles shall endeavor to prove the reasonableness of the the position that aside from the Bible (the word), the Holy Spirit may choose to help, urge, nudge, encourage,influence, guide a Christian in a direct or personal way. We shall go step by step in this exploration.

STEP #1. MAKE A COMPARISON ON HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HOW THE DEVIL DO THEIR RESPECTIVE WORKS.

In my booklet, “19 Steps Towards a Better Understanding of the Humanity and Deity of Christ” the comparative chart showing what the Devil did and what Christ did opens the eyes of many Bible students about the deity of Christ. When this comparative method is applied in the present series, eyes will also be opened.

We ask questions.

  1. When the Devil roars and prowls and devours people (1Pet.5:8), may he do it personally, or does he accomplish the act only and always through satanic prose and poetry? ____ On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit works, helps, urges, nudges, encourages, influences, guides a Christian, may He do it directly/personally if He chooses to? ___
  2. When the Devil tempts a Christian by working on the libidinal or instinctive sexual, lustful desires (1 John 2:16; Gal. 5:19; Romans 7:14-25), may the Devil do the influencing directly or personally, or does he do the work through written/oral satanic prose and poetry always and only?___ On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit helps a Christian in controlling the lustful libido and encourages its legal expression within marriage, may He do the infuencing directly or personally (Rom. 1:24-27;2:12-16), or does He work through the written/oral Bible only? ___
  3. Satan in his work of influencing atheists to believe in evolution as an explanation of the universe, does he do the work through satanic prose and poetry only and always? ____ On the other hand, the Holy Spirit garnished the heavens and God created the cosmos (Job 26:13; Romans 1:20), may the Holy Spirit use the material universe to persuade men to believe in God even without the written/oral Bible? _____
  4. Ephesians 6:12; Mark 5:1-20 speak of wrestling with principalities and powers and rulers of the kingdom of darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, are these characters mentioned personalities that influence people or are these items listed mere philosophical ideas contained in prose and poetry only? ____ On the other hand, if Christians consider Eph. 6:12 & Mark 5:1-20 as pointing to spiritual personalities becoming victorious and the Holy Spirit is displaced in the Christian’s heart, the Holy Spirit is grieved (Eph. 4:30), is the Holy Spirit that is made sad a person or is the Bible the one grieved? ___
  5. When a Christian resists the Devil (1 Peter 5:9), is he resisting a personal Devil or does he resist a message or an idea from the Bible? ____
  6. When the guardian angel (Matt. 18:10) works, or angels are sent by God (Heb. 1:14; 13:1-2) to minister to the saved, or visit a Christian, are these personalities working in person as messengers of the Holy Spirit? ____

Seriously reflect on the above questions. Answer them.

(To be continued)

Baguio–Benguet Ladies Fellowship

Every November 30th, being a national non-working holiday, ladies in the congregations in the City of Baguio and province of Benguet come together for fellowship and edification. This year there were 98 in attendance. Host congregation was Center Point congregation. Speakers were Juliet Dayucos and Brenda Coloma. The venue was the auditorium at 18 Rimando Road, Baguio.

Evangelism Workshop in Kalookan City

Brethren in the Kalookan City congregation successfully hosted the 2007 National Evangelism Workshop-Seminar last Dec. 6-8. It was conducted in their 3 story building which is found at 74 Asuncion Road, Morning Breeze Subdivision. This assembly hall is within walking distance from the Monumento LRT staton and very proximate to the Manila Central University along Edsa.

Among the lecturers were Fred Angangan, Sid Banez, Jun Patricio, Eusebio Tanicala, Bob Buchanan and Ken Wilkey. (E. Tanicala)