Faith and Action Part 1

When we reflect on our faith, in the evangelical world (of which I am a part) one of the tenets of our faith is generally an adherence to biblical inerrancy (a position Catholicism also holds), along with a statement that our faith and practice are guided by scripture. Here are two typical examples. The first from the North American Baptist statement of beliefs and the second from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

We believe the Bible is God’s Word given by divine inspiration, the record of God’s revelation of Himself to humanity (II Timothy 3:16).  It is trustworthy, sufficient, without error – the supreme authority and guide for all doctrine and conduct (I Peter 1:23-25; John 17:17; II Timothy 3:16-17).  It is the truth by which God brings people into a saving relationship with Himself and leads them to Christian maturity (John 20:31; I John 5:9-12; Matthew 4:4; I Peter 2:2).

The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is the written revelation of God’s character and saving purposes for humanity and for all creation. (Ps. 119; John 20:30-31; Rom. 15:4). As God’s revelation, the entire Bible is true and trustworthy, and is the final and absolute authority for belief and conduct. (2Tim 3:16-17; Heb 4:12). The Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible enables its interpretation and application. (2Pet. 1:20-21; John 16:13; 1Cor. 2:12-13).

My experience over the years is that most of us don’t really examine what this means in our day to day lives. Thus, we shall begin that examination process. First, we will look at what the concept of inerrancy means along with the idea the scriptures are the authority for our belief and conduct. One is anchored in the other.

            Inerrancy does not mean that there are zero errors in our present scriptural text. The idea of inerrancy points to the original manuscripts being without error and God communicating what He wanted to communicate to us via scripture. However, even knowing that our present text is not inerrant need not be a major concern. The reason being that with both the Old and New Testaments, no major doctrine related to salvation is challenged or threatened by the differences we have in the text. One of the reasons I like the New King James Version is that it captures the textual differences in notes throughout both testaments. Most of the differences are in the New Testament (NT) text. For example, the longer ending of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, the longer ending of Mark 16 and the story of the woman taken in adultery in John 7-8. There are three main textual streams in the Greek manuscripts of the NT and we have over 5,000 copies of the NT in Greek.

It is important to point out that in the three streams and numerous manuscripts they are in complete agreement regarding the vast majority of the NT. Critics like to focus on the differences but as I noted earlier, they repudiate no major doctrine. There is a whole area of study referred to as textual criticism that focuses on looking at timelines, locations of writing and patterns of scribal errors in seeking to present the most accurate manuscript. I have done some research out of my own interest, yet in terms of action regarding our faith we do best when we focus on what is referred to as the ‘main and plain.’

The idea of the ‘main and plain’ is that for the most part the instructions in scripture are clear. Here are some examples.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:1–3 (NKJV)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:8–10 (NKJV)

There are no disputes about the accuracy of the verses above, or as previously noted, almost all the NT. Thus we can confidently live in these truths and leave the differences in other areas to the scholars to sort through as we walk with Jesus trusting what He has communicated through His word.

            In my next post I will look at some of the difficult texts like how to apply removing an offensive eye, the importance of context, and the different types of literature that make up the scriptures.

New Book

I have published another book on Kindle. See the link below. I first wrote this in 2018 as a teaching manual for a small group I was leading. I have gone through and reedited the entire book, rewritten parts and added some examples. As per the title, it covers practical areas related to hearing His voice. I include identity, the ways He speaks and a significant amount on the need for, and practice of, discernment.

Passing Tests

I have long held to the belief that character isn’t formed in crisis, it is revealed. My qualifier is that difficulties and crises are not the same thing. There is a twofold process, the way we respond to difficulties, and daily life in general, forms and shapes us. The way we have been shaped is what will be revealed in a crisis.

            When we are born again, the most important choice in our life, the Spirit begins a process that requires our cooperation. The Spirit works to form Jesus’ character in us (Galatians 4:19, 5:22-23), a process that requires our active cooperation. When we step from time into eternity and appear before the judgement seat, we will all give an account for how we have responded to His shaping. We will all have failures; however, I think the main thing He will be looking for at that time is how much of Jesus was revealed in and through us in our earthly life. This process is outlined in both 1 and 2 Peter.  

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22–25 (NKJV)

5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5–11 (NKJV)

            The quotes above are lengthy and to have a fuller grasp of the context in 2 Peter I recommend reading all of chapter 1. That aside, we can see in 1 Peter that the way we grow is by walking in obedience to the Spirit, responding rightly in the little things. In 2 Peter we are exhorted to be diligent to see these godly character traits growing in our lives. The growth comes about through our active engagement with the Spirt, daily drawing on His grace and trusting that He will enable us to do what Paul wrote, walk, keep in step with the Spirit.

            An important note here, the Spirit generally works to form Christ in us through our interactions with others. If we pay attention, we will find that we have numerous opportunities every day to reveal Jesus in our responses to those around us, even if they can’t hear us and we are driving in rush hour traffic! I have had many opportunities while driving to have Jesus’ character both formed and revealed in me. I am sure you had yours. At times Jesus has been revealed, other times I have had the opportunity to instantly repent over my thoughts or deeds.

            While I have not always had the right response, I have had enough of them to see Jesus revealed. Very recently I was turning left onto a busy road. I was at the front of the line and the light turned green, I began pulling out and as I was crossing the second lane, peripherally I saw a large pickup coming at high speed through the red light, I instantly stopped. My heart response was not to be angry at the other driver but to be thankful to the Spirit for alerting me and likely saving my life and that of the other driver.      

            Another example happened decades ago. We were driving home from church after the Sunday service and something had not gone well nor according to my expectations (I was the pastor). I don’t remember what I was lamenting, I do remember my wife’s words very clearly, “You always give up.” Was that ever encouraging! Okay, not so much. Was it true? Not fully, I didn’t always give up, yet I had a habit of ‘giving up’ or withdrawing from difficult situations rather than pushing through. My wife’s comment hit home, partly because it was shared as an observation not a judgment, and because I looked to the Spirit to respond it shifted something inside of me. Rather than taking offense I reflected on what she said. I made a decision to respond differently that created growth and the further revealing of Jesus in me.

I share these examples to illustrate a process. I am confident that in every decision I have made and every interaction I have each day, that Jesus will not be revealed. I am also confident that because I have developed a habit of submitting to His leading that in most of my interactions each day, Jesus will be revealed. Developing a habit in the little moments creates a character that will be manifest in the big moments. We all have numerous opportunities each day to cooperate with the growth opportunities He provides so that we can look forward to what Peter wrote, having an ‘abundant entrance’ into eternity.

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:11 (NKJV)

The Role of Repetition

            Do you hear God calling your name? Are you up for a challenge? The latter is a question often used when difficulties lie ahead. In scripture there are number of examples where someone is not only called, their name is repeated.

11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” Genesis 22:11 (NKJV)

2 Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.” Genesis 46:2 (NKJV)

4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:4 (NKJV)

10 Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” 1 Samuel 3:10 (NKJV)

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. Luke 10:41 (NKJV)

31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. Luke 22:31 (NKJV)

4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Acts 9:4 (NKJV)

In the case of Abraham, in obedience to a previous call he is about to sacrifice his son Isaac, trusting the Lord to raise Isaac back to life. The Father stops Abraham and expresses His pleasure at Abrahams faith and obedience. In the case of Jacob, the Father is reassuring him it is okay to take his family to Egypt and that he will in fact see his long lost son Joseph there. In the case of Moses, he is about to be given an overwhelming task, leading a nation out from under bondage to another nation, then leading them into the wilderness to learn to worship.

            With Samuel, the call is to a ministry that will judge a nation and anoint kings. With Martha, Jesus is correcting her and pointing her away from her agenda to His. With Simon (Peter) Jesus is seeking to prepare him for the most significant challenge of his life to that point. With Saul (Paul) his rebellion against the Lord is being confronted in preparation for a ministry that will shake the then known world.

We see a pattern in the repetition, generally it is preparation for a challenge that is coming. In each case it signals a need for preparation, change, or both. Each of the individuals above responded with varying degrees of faithfulness. While we may not be called to anoint kings or shake nations, we are called to follow Jesus and hear His voice. As we hear Him calling us, I pray we are up to the challenge and respond with faithfulness.

NOTE the link below is to a just released podcast where I am interviewed about my Worldview book.

Choose You this Day

You may be familiar with Joshua’s famous speech addressing the nation of Israel and challenging them to choose, choose that day who they would serve, Yahweh or the gods of the surrounding culture (Joshua 23-24, main verses 24:16-18). That day the people chose Yahweh. Chronologically the book of Judges follows the events of Joshua where we see the people of Israel vacillating back and forth between that choice and the gods of the surrounding cultures. In 1 Samuel we come to a key turning point in the following statement. The context is the leaders of Israel asking for a king like the nations/cultures around them.

7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day – with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods – so they are doing to you also.” 1 Samuel 8:7–8 (NKJV)

            In reading this we do well to ask ourselves how asking for a king is connected to rejecting Yahweh and serving other gods. The answer comes in understanding something about the surrounding Ancient Near East (ANE) culture and how their kings were seen. If we go back to Pharoah, he was considered a god. If we go forward to Caesar, he was considered a god. This was the culture of the area, kings were god-men representing divinity on earth. Some of the gods of the surrounding ANE culture were Baal, Ashtoreth, Dagon and Molok. This god-king motif is also seen in the prophetic passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel rebuking Satan.

In Isaiah 14:4-14 we have Isaiah prophesying doom for the king of Babylon, shifting to a description of how Lucifer/Satan fell, and then returning to the king of Babylon. The characters were intertwined and the spiritual being was seen as the power behind the king. In Ezekiel 28:1-19 we see the same thing. The king of Tyre sees himself as a god and Ezekiel rebukes and denounces his arrogance, then in verse 12 turns to denouncing the anointed cherub (Satan) who dwelt before Yahweh’s throne in the garden on the holy mountain.  

Now back to Samuel. In essence when the elders of Israel came to Samuel asking that they have a king like the surrounding nations the people were saying Yahweh, we can’t see you so we reject you, we want a king to be/represent our god, we want a visible god. We may think this is merely interesting ANE history, yet there is an application for our lives. In their expressed desires the people were trying to serve two masters, the king god-man and Yahweh. They didn’t trust the One they could not see so were seeking a physical embodiment of Yahweh through the king.

In our culture we may not see spiritual or political leaders as an embodiment of God, yet we need to ask what we are actually serving and what takes priority in our lives. If we are looking for a certain leader or authority to rise up and make things better our heart may have shifted. As per the verses below we are called to pray for our communities and for civic and national leaders and seek to influence them toward righteousness. We are called to trust Yahweh.  

11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. Proverbs 11:11 (NKJV)

7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. Jeremiah 29:7 (NKJV)

1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1–2 (NKJV)

Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak

            The verse below is well known and here our focus is on ‘swift to hear, slow to speak.’

19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; James 1:19 (NKJV)

This is of particular importance in our social media culture. I suspect all of us have said things in reaction to what others have said (yes, my hand is up). When I think of this in relation to social media what comes to mind is a cartoon I saw. The wife is telling her husband, ‘It’s time to come to bed.’ He responds, ‘I can’t yet, someone said something wrong on the internet!’ Whether or not we can see ourselves in that, in our current cultural ethos it hits too close to home. We have issues with bullying, new terms that have arisen, ‘ghosting,’ and the resurgence of the idea of ‘gaslighting.’

In response to these issues, we need to hear James afresh. Inherent in the idea of being swift to hear and then slow to speak is that we each have a ‘respond ability.’ Rather than reacting to something that happens we are called to process and then provide a measured response, even under pressure.

            It is easy to say this but we need an approach or strategy to actually do it. I have a friend who often seems to be listening internally in conversation. He is trying to process what has been said and how the Holy Spirit would have him respond. I have another friend where I can send an email or text and the response arrives a day or two later. He is a processor. For some people the pause comes naturally, for most of us the reaction is a more natural response.

            For those of us where reacting is the natural response, James is encouraging us to push pause. If we have cultivated the habit of turning our hearts to Jesus at regular intervals throughout the day this is not difficult. If we have not, we can. Over a century ago Henry Drummond wrote a booklet called The Changed Life where he focused on the practice of trying to turn and tune our hearts to Jesus each morning. His primary point, based on 2 Corinthians 3:18, was that as we posture ourselves before Jesus that the Spirit changes us into His image.

            In my own experience, one of the things I found most helpful was reading a little book called God’s Psychiatry. The author recommended meditating on four keys passages of scripture. I focused on the first. I took the 23 Psalm and spend a few minutes reflecting on it when I got up, after each meal, and then just before bed. His peace reigned in my heart.

            If you need to develop the habit of being reflective, slow to speak and quick to hear and discern then pick a method that suits you and step further into the flow of His Spirit. PS if you are interested in Drummond’s book it used to be available online to download as the copyright had expired. I also have a copy I downloaded into a Word version and tidied up. Contact me if you would like a copy.

I Know the Thoughts

The title is based on the first four words from the verse below. The word ‘thoughts’ is translated as ‘plans’ in the ESV and the word in Hebrew means thoughts, plans or intentions.  

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Here I am focusing on the first four words, because as I have pointed out in the past, the full promise in the verse was not going to be fulfilled for 70 years and most of the hearers of Jeremiah’s proclamation would not live to see it come to pass. Hence my focus is on how we apply the first idea in the sentence to our lives.

            What we see here in the general sense is that the Lord thinks about us, He has plans for us. While they aren’t the same for each of us, they are for each of us. The Lord doesn’t devise evil for us. His desire is that we would encounter and experience His goodness and grace.  

            The word translated as thoughts/plans is also found in this verse in reference to the thoughts of the heart.

5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 (ESV)

While this verse from Genesis is accurate it is reflective of what our thoughts or plans can produce, not the Lord’s thoughts and plans for us. We find His original thoughts and plans in Genesis and repeated in Psalms.

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 (NKJV)

6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, Psalm 8:6 (NKJV)

Our Father’s plan is that we each take responsibility and exercise dominion. This starts with our own lives. It includes understanding the sphere of authority commensurate with our calling and gifting. For example, if we are called to intercession, we can exercise authority in the place of prayer for others. If we are called to teach or lead, we can exercise authority there, dominion really in each case. In doing so we need to be aware of our limits. Paul said he had been given a sphere of authority (2 Corinthians 10:12-16).

In keeping with our sphere of authority we need to be aware of how it operates. One of the primary gifts in my life is teaching. Yet I still need permission to teach others, whether that is being invited to speak to a group or one on one. For example, I play Pickleball and am fairly good at it. Yet when playing with someone who is just learning or less skilled if I see areas for improvement I try to remember to say, “Would you like some feedback on how you are playing?” If I try to offer tips without permission, whether they are accepted or rebuffed, I have gone beyond my sphere of authority.  

In each of our lives the Father has thoughts and plans for us. To see them realized we need to determine how to exercise the dominion He has given us within our sphere of authority.  

Where Wisdom Rests

Each month I read through Proverbs and yesterday being the 14th, I read one of my favourite verses.

33 Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, But what is in the heart of fools is made known. Proverbs 14:33 (NKJV)

I have in the past made the connection to Jesus being our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30) and Him resting in my heart if I possess understanding. However, while I take comfort in that application, that was not the original meaning given Solomon had not heard of Jesus when he wrote this verse. So let us explore it a bit further.

            Wisdom is practical skill or ability and understanding is discerning and considering something. Proverbs is a book of practical wisdom. The verse has a contrast between the wise and the foolish, with the fool in Proverbs being one who rejects the knowledge of God, not one who lacks information or education.

            This verse, like many others in Proverbs, stands alone as a piece of pithy wisdom and the contrast is between those who retain wisdom and those whose inner life is always on display for others to see. This versus is not an exhortation to be secretive, it is an encouragement to retain wisdom. We see it reflected in what James wrote when he said we are to be swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19).

            In essence, wisdom is at rest, it finds a home, in those with understanding. What needs to be addressed of course is what needs to be understood. Taking the broader context and purpose of Proverbs one thing 14:33 is telling us is that we need to understand, to discern situations before we address them. In the present state of our culture this verse is of particular importance. We live in an era of keyboard warriors very willing to share their opinions with others and few who are willing to step back, pray and discern.

            I had a situation this week where I made a difficult decision to provide direction to someone and I knew it was direction they would not want to hear and would create some issues for them. Prior to providing it I spent some months praying and weighing it and sought wisdom from others whose discernment I trust. I wanted to be certain I was making the right decision. As He is so good at doing the Lord confirmed the rightness of my decision after I made it.  

            While this is one example of applying Proverbs 14:33 most of our opportunities will not have a timeline of months, nor do they need to have this timeframe. In keeping with Proverbs overarching theme of practical wisdom, the next time we choose to respond to something on social media or offer an opinion at home or at work we can pause and do a little inner check. In doing that check we can determine whether what we are offering is coming from wisdom resting in our heart.

Jesus Baptism: The Significance for Us.

In my last post I referenced the connections between Jesus’ baptism by John, along with His simultaneous baptism by the Spirit, and the result of the Spirit on Jesus being seen in the prophetic message of Isaiah 11:1-2, the gifts Jesus walked in. I made a further connection that these gifts, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers were also Jesus gifts to His church (after His ascension – Ephesians 4:7-11).

Now we can look at what this means for us. My goal is not to focus on these five gifts. Rather, I want to look more broadly at how just as Jesus’ ministry flowed from the Spirit resting on Him, so He desires to reveal Himself through us as the Spirit rest on us. Jesus revealed the Father following His baptism, we are called to reveal Jesus. My experience in decades of walking with Jesus is that for myself and others it is both a calling and a challenge to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Yet that is our calling and the source of our effectiveness.

That is what Paul exemplified, thus many of us would like to be like Paul. I know I would and that isn’t a bad aspiration. That requires heeding what Paul actually wrote.

1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV)

17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:17 (NKJV)

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. Philippians 3:17 (NKJV)

In the verses above the key point isn’t the need to be like Paul, it is to be like Jesus! Paul encouraged us to imitate him to the degree that he reflected Jesus. Paul is pointing us to Jesus.

We can go a little further. If we view the gospel through the lens of the letters to the churches, we are looking through the wrong end of the telescope and our view will be distorted. The four gospels were not written just so we could have some background on how the church was started. They are foundational to all that we do and we are to build our lives on that foundation. They reveal Jesus and His demonstration of ministering out of communion with the Father. Look at what Paul wrote in Colossians.

1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1–3 (NKJV) In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Whatever we need to fulfill our calling and purpose is found in Jesus. The significance of Jesus baptism for us is that when we are converted Jesus comes to live in us by the Spirit. Our calling is to imitate Paul; learn to commune with Jesus and interact with those around us out of that relationship. Gifts, callings and fruit all flow from that relationship, just as everything Jesus did flowed from His relationship with the Father (John 5:19-20, 30). Whatever we need to interact well with others is found in Jesus.

Jesus Baptism

            I have in the past written about Jesus’ baptism by John and the significance of Jesus doing what He did on earth not as God but as a man under the anointing of the Spirit. In some way He set aside His divine attributes Here I want to look at what I believe took place at Jesus baptism. This requires bringing together Isaiah 11:1-2, 61:1-2, which Luke 4:18-19 quotes, and Ephesians 4:11. Years ago I made some notes in my bible regarding the connection between Ephesians 4:11and Isaiah 11:1-2 and they sat there until recently when a friend asked for my thoughts and on Isaiah 11:1-2 and it reminded me of my notes.

            At John’s baptism of Jesus, the Spirit came and rested on Him and the Father spoke from heaven and endorsed Him (Matthew 3:16-17). When He publicly proclaimed Himself as the Messiah in Nazareth Jesus read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue and told them the scripture was fulfilled.  

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18–21 (NKJV)

This is where Isaiah 11 and Ephesians 4 come in. Ephesians 4 describes Jesus ascension gifts to the church as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. In His earthly ministry Jesus expressed the fullness of each of these five gifts. We see that in Isaiah 11. I here present it twice; the second time just verse 2 with some added words in brackets to illustrate what I am saying.

1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 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. Isaiah 11:1-2 (NKJV)

2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom (apostle) and understanding (prophet), The Spirit of counsel (shepherd/pastor) and might (evangelist), The Spirit of knowledge (teacher) and of the fear of the LORD. Isaiah 11:2 (NKJV)

            This passage in Isaiah is well known as referring to the coming Messiah, Jesus. The other aspect is that it is generally referred to as the seven-fold Spirit resting on Jesus. I have never been able to see the seven-fold aspect here. The passage speaks of the Holy Spirit coming to rest on Jesus at His baptism and imparting the fullness of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching gifts. The passage then continues with the first line of Isaiah 11:3, “3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord.” The fear of Yahweh is not a gift resulting from Jesus’ baptism or obedience. It is the heart attitude He carried to His baptism!

  In Hebrew the word delight is very interesting. Spirit in each reference in Isaiah 11:2 is Ruach (7307 in Strong’s) spirit, breath, wind. Delight is Ruach with a slightly different accent (7306 in Strong’s) and is the root of 7307. It carries the sense of anticipation, as if we begin to smell something and anticipate more, hence the translation as delight.  

The fear of Yahweh in relation to Jesus’ humanity brings me to what my friend Evelyn said years ago when I asked her how she defined the fear of the Lord. She said, “Loving Him so much I would never do anything to offend Him.” Jesus certainly lived that way before His Father.

In conclusion, Jesus was baptized in water and the Spirit at the same time and the fruit of that experiences was a full release into His ministry. We all have gifts and callings. To fully walk in them I think we need to learn how to ‘love Him so much that we will never do anything to offend Him.’ Making that our delight will allow Him to move through us in His fullness.