Monday, October 31, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 90

The Advent Part 82

The fourth thing that all those who had been filled with the Holy Spirit continued steadfastly in was prayer. Absent prayer and absent continuing steadfastly in it, spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and spiritual wellbeing are impossible.

I realize full well that in many a denomination and in many a church prayer has fallen out of favor, it has been relegated to the dustbin of antiquated and long expired practices, and if ever prayer is practiced it is done solely as a formality.

What many of our generation fail to understand is the paramount importance of prayer in the life of a believer. Although the Word does not encourage us to read always, or break bread always, it does tell us to pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Of the four things that the primary church continued steadfastly in, prayer was the one thing that they were encouraged to essentially practice without ceasing.

Ephesians 6:17-20, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

If our prayer life is properly established, and if prayer has its rightful place in our lives, then all the other attributes that make up our spiritual life will be in their rightful place because prayer is the oxygen that animates our spiritual man. Prayer is communion and fellowship with God; it is us communicating with Him on a personal and intimate level. Without the connection we form with God through prayer, without the spiritual oxygen that prayer provides, life in God is impossible.

‘So what are you saying brother Mike that there are many within the church today who are dead, and who have no life in them?’

Unfortunately, that is exactly what I am saying. There are thousands upon thousands of ambulatory corpses within the church today, who go through the motions and the ceremony, who know when they’re supposed to stand, to clap, to sing along and to say amen, but who have no life in them, whose spiritual man does not breathe but is starving for the oxygen that prayer provides.

When we pray we must always be vigilant in our prayers, making sure that they do not become some empty formality, or some empty ceremony but that they are true and heartfelt and sincere before God. When prayer becomes a formality, it is as if it was never uttered, for God never hears it.

Colossians 4:2, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”

There are two things that Christ automatically assumed we would do as His followers. The first of these two things was pray, and the second was fast. When Jesus spoke of prayer as well as fasting, He did not say ‘if you fast’ or ‘if you pray’ but rather when you fast, and when you pray. He automatically assumed that we would practice these things, because He practiced these things and Him being our example, we would likewise practice prayer and fasting.

Matthew 6:5-7, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

Praying always, or praying without ceasing does not mean that we are to spend all day, every day on our knees before God, but rather that we ought to have our hearts open toward Him in perpetuity, that we possess a spirit of uninterrupted worship and prayer. Just as the physical body breathes in oxygen and then expels it without even realizing that it does, our spiritual man must be in a spirit of prayer throughout.

There are many facets to prayer, another of which is the fact that prayer is a weapon against the enemy and against the trying times through which we as believers go. Man’s need for God is expressed through prayer. It is through prayer that we cry out to Him, it is through prayer that we pour our hearts out to Him, it is through prayer that we express our love for Him, and it is through prayer that we worship Him. Prayer is not some dry and sad repetition of a handful of words whose meaning we fail to grasp, it is the pouring out of one’s heart in the presence of God.

If by the example of Christ we learn that we must pray, it is through Him and through the example He set while He walked the earth that we also learn how to pray.

Hebrews 5:7-8, “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

The Word tells us not only that Jesus prayed, but also how He prayed, and in this passage we see that He prayed with vehement cries and tears, and was heard because of His godly fear. Jesus poured out His heart to the Father, who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear. Yes, God the Father heard the Son’s prayer, but the Father’s answer was no, that He might become the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.

God hears every prayer uttered with sincerity of heart and brokenness, but sometimes He chooses not to answer.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 89

The Advent Part 81

The third thing that all those who had been filled with the Holy Spirit continued steadfastly in was the breaking of bread.

As the New Testament clearly shows us, the breaking of bread has a double meaning. First, the breaking of bread signifies the continual remembrance of the death and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which we were redeemed from the bondage of sin, of His resurrection, and of His soon return. So the first meaning of the breaking of bread is symbolic, which aids us in remembering Jesus.

The second meaning of the breaking of bread is likewise symbolic and it signifies the unity or oneness of the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-26, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘this cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

The breaking of bread or communion as it is known in our day and age is a special fellowship that the Body of Christ can have with the Father as well as Jesus, and it is a practice that is Biblically sound and even encouraged.

Our gathering together and the breaking of bread is only possible through the Holy Spirit. Before the advent of the Holy Spirit there is no Biblical proof that the Disciples of Christ practiced the breaking of bread. It was only after the Church was born that this became possible, and as we’ve already covered, the Church was born on the day of Pentecost.

Christ’s oratory in the gospel according to John concerning the Bread of Life, which came down from heaven shows us clearly that it is receiving the Person of the Savior spiritually that Jesus is referring to. When He speaks of the Bread of Life, and receiving it, He speaks of faith in Him, in His teaching and His redeeming sacrifice, and not about the Lord’s Supper, or the last supper as we know it today that Jesus had with His apostles the night He was taken.

John 6:53-56, “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 abides in Me, and I in him.’”

If we take this singular scripture passage, it would seem that it is contradicting my previous statement concerning Jesus speaking of eating His flesh and drinking His blood in a spiritual sense, but this passage of scripture can only be understood by scripture, and the key to understanding this particular passage is found in the same chapter of the gospel according to John.

John 6:51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

It was not Christ’s physical body that came down from heaven. His physical body was born of the Virgin Mary, yet spiritually Jesus came down from heaven. If we eat of this bread, if we receive Jesus as Lord, as Savior, as Messiah and as King, then we will live forever. The Jews who heard His words were scandalized by them, because they did not perceive the spiritual implications of what Jesus was attempting to say. It was His sacrifice, His death that Jesus was speaking of, and any man who is baptized into His death will have eternal life.

It is because men took literally what was meant to be taken spiritually that today we have the doctrine of transubstantiation, wherein some believe that the bread and the wine become the literal physical body of Jesus after a prayer is uttered.

Yes there have been debates as to whether the breaking of bread should be done daily, whether it should be done at night or in the morning, but these are irrelevant discussions spurred by denominational zeal that take away from the beauty of this practice within the household of God. The Bible tells us that the early church practiced the breaking of bread daily, but they also came together on a daily basis, praying and learning the Word, being in fellowship and breaking bread. There was constancy in their coming together, they were never apart during those early days of the church, but as persecution came and they were scattered throughout, we are no longer told that they practiced the breaking of bread on a daily basis. We break bread in remembrance of Christ, in remembrance of all that He has done for us, and when we do so we must be certain that it is not done in an unworthy manner.

1 Corinthians 11:27-30, “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 88

The Advent Part 80

The second thing that all those who had been filled with the Holy Spirit continued steadfastly in was fellowship.

I will be the first to admit that finding true fellowship is becoming increasingly difficult in our day and age, as is finding likeminded brothers and sisters in Christ with which to pray and study the Word, but difficult and impossible are two very different things.

We cannot give up on seeking fellowship with the brethren just because it is difficult, and as God has had His people throughout every generation, He has His people today, those with which we can congregate and seek after the deeper things of the kingdom.

If we are steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine, then we will be steadfast in three other areas that constitute the four pillars of spiritual wellbeing. Being a believer requires that we live in love with other believers as well, that we allow the bonds of love to bind us together and keep us in unity.

Just as single members or organs of a body cannot function or survive outside the body for an extended period of time, believers need the bond of fellowship, they need to be within a body of believers that they might function properly. It need not be a congregation of ten thousand, it need not be a congregation of fifty, you can have true fellowship in your home, with your family, with your spouse, or with a handful likeminded believers just as long as the unity is evident, and the purpose is the lifting high of the name of Jesus.

Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

The followers of Christ are named living stones within the Scriptures, and in order for stones to become a spiritual house they must be built upon each other, and knit together. A stone is just a stone until it is placed upon another stone, and another stone is placed upon it, the builder choosing which stone must go where, that when it is done, when it is complete it will resemble that which the builder intended. A stone has no will of its own, it cannot demand that it be placed anywhere except for where the builder places it, nor can it say that the other stones surrounding it are beneath it.

1 Peter 2:4-5, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Romans 3:4-6, “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”

There is a fine line between finding it difficult to find fellowship, and thinking ourselves too righteous to fellowship with anyone else. During almost a quarter century of ministry, I’ve seen both those who just couldn’t find a congregation of believers that taught the Word of God in their area, but I’ve also seen individuals that deemed themselves so righteous that any church, any group, any Bible study was beneath them.

Our purpose as one body, our purpose as the spiritual house of God is to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, not to compare ourselves to our brothers and sisters and conclude that we are spiritually superior to them. I am a stone, just as you are a stone, and the Master Builder will place you where He deems necessary.

The will of God the Father is that all His children be in one Body. Knowing this, how can some believers pray ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ when they can’t look past the denomination they belong to when it comes to fellowship.

A more honest prayer would be ‘Lord, I belong to this denomination, You know the one I’m talking about, all my friends are here, we don’t really associate or fellowship with anyone else, so please forgive me for not being able to do Your will here on earth.’

The Word of God is very clear on the topic of fellowship, and the fact that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

Romans 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Although the Word tells us that we are to assemble ourselves together, and exhort one another so much the more as we see the Day approaching, it seems we are doing the exact opposite of what the Bible instructs us to do.

Getting people to come to church nowadays is like pulling teeth, and unless there’s a special speaker, a special service, a special concert or a special raffle, countless souls can’t be bothered to get into their cars, drive to the house of worship, and sit on a comfy pew.

Never mind the fact that others in different parts of the world walk five and ten miles each way just to get to a house of worship, which is nothing more than a mud shack with a few wood benches, never mind the fact that others in different parts of the world congregate together every night of the week whether to pray, or to hear the word of God preached to them, we have more important things to do, we have video games and cable television, we have hobbies and distractions, who has time to assemble together and exhort one another?

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 87

The Advent Part 79

It is a well-known and accepted fact that the bigger the house, the deeper the foundation. If the foundation of a house is not deep, robust, well-built and sturdy no matter how beautiful the construct might be, no matter how intricate the walls and the ceiling, there remains a perpetual danger that due to the inadequate foundation the entire thing will one day come crashing down. The household of faith, the Congregation of God is as high as the heavens, where Christ its head sits in His glory, and as such its foundation must be deep and true. There can be no substituting the foundation of the church, for only when it stands upon the Word of God is it strong and unyielding when the inevitable storms come its way.

One knows the strength of a foundation only when the foundation is tested by some external pressure. Up until the storm comes, up until the whirlwind descends, the homes with foundations as well as those without foundations will stand side by side. When the storm comes however, it is only those whose foundations are true that will remain standing, and only those whose foundations are strong will weather the storm.

It is true of an individual as it is true for the church as a whole, one is only as strong as their foundation, and if our foundation is anything other than Christ and the Word of God, when the storm comes none will remain standing.

Bubble gum doctrines are great in the good times, during the sunny days when everyone is smelling roses and enjoying the sunshine, but these doctrines will evaporate at the first sign of pushback, conflict, resistance, or persecution.

Fair weather Christianity is called ‘fair weather’ for a reason, that reason being that as long as there are no storms on the horizon, as long as faith isn’t tested, to those who have no desire for the deeper things of God it is an acceptable surrogate to the real thing.

‘We like the singing and the plays the kids put on, plus they have a great daycare for members, and the potlucks have a wide variety of food. No, we’re not getting spiritually fed, we are not challenged to grow in God, no one encourages us to read the Bible, no one beseeches us to repent and commit wholly to Christ, but you can’t have everything now can you?’

The time is here, the hour has come when nominal Christianity, bubble gum doctrine, and fair weather faith will not suffice, and our only hope and recourse is to deepen our roots in the Word of God, and know that our foundation is none other than Christ Jesus.

There is wisdom in the Word of God that we cannot get anywhere else. It doesn’t matter how wise a man thinks himself to be, it doesn’t matter how educated one might be, there is still that wisdom that transcends human understanding that the Bible offers the children of God, a wisdom that only they have access to.

I realize the preceding might sound elitist to some, but it is a truth that is substantiated by the Bible, and one those who omit the reading of the Word and the studying thereof must come to realize.

1 Corinthians 2:6-13, “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

If Paul’s statements were applicable two thousand years ago, then they are surely applicable in our day and age as well. Yes, the wisdom of the rulers of this age is coming to nothing, and so rather than speak their wisdom we must speak the wisdom of God. It is easy for us to get caught up in the malaise, it is easy for us to get caught up with the crowd and start to repeat that which we hear from others, yet our thinking must be different than that of the world, for we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

God has prepared great things for His children, the Word going so far as to tell us that eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has in store for those who love Him, yet with all the promises of God, with all that we have access to, with all that we know God has prepared, many of us are still dragging our feet, doing the least we can do, concentrating our efforts and resources on the passing and fleeting things of this present life.

May God reignite the burning fires of first love in our hearts, and may we desire all of Him and not just part of Him.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This Weekend's Travels

Since quite a number of you came to the meetings last weekend, and for those that did I pray they were edifying and spiritually nourishing, I decided to post where I will be traveling this weekend as well.

As always thank you for your prayers as we travel, and once again a heartfelt thank you to all those who came and introduced yourselves as readers of this small outreach. Tomorrow we continue our journey into the power, presence and purpose of the Holy Spirit.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday October 28, 2011 7:00 PM
God's Place
1485 Golf Club Lane
Clarksville, TN 37040
Contact: 931-249-3140

Saturday October 29, 2011 6:30 PM
Shipshewanna Convention Center
760 Van Buren State Road
Shipshewanna, IN 46565

Sunday October 30, 2011 10:00 AM
Shipshewanna Convention Center
760 Van Buren State Road
Shipshewanna, IN 46565

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 86

The Advent Part 78

Now that we’ve outlined the four things in which we ought to continue steadfastly, the four things which are required of every believer in order for them to have a healthy spiritual man, I want to backtrack, if only briefly and discuss these four things with the requisite thoroughness something of such import demands.

The first thing that all those who had been filled with the Holy Spirit continued steadfastly in was the apostles’ doctrine. Granted, it would be a unique and humbling experience to sit at the feet of one such as Peter, or Matthew, or John and hear their doctrine firsthand, but seeing as we are about two thousand years too late we can still remain steadfast in their doctrine by reading the Word of God.

Often times we overlook the simple blessing of having access to the Word of God so readily and so immediately. There has never been a generation in the history of the world, nor has there been a nation anywhere in the world that has had such availability and abundance of the Word of God, yet there has never been a nation or a generation that has so readily dismissed and marginalized it either.

There are those who realize the importance of the Word in their lives, who realize that it is the pure milk that helps us to grow spiritually, and as such go to great lengths to come into possession of a Bible, or even some handwritten scriptures. One of the few possessions I have that I prize is a handwritten Bible an old brother insisted that I take and keep when I brought him a large print Bible as a gift some years ago. It is large and unwieldy, the pages are brittle with age, the writing faded, and the binding has seen better days, but I have it in my office in Romania to remind me of the fact that some went to great lengths to have something that I take for granted at times. It had taken this brother the better part of six years to write the Bible by hand, and he had done this during the communist oppression Romania, my homeland, was under for some forty five years.

Since the entire congregation only had only had one Bible, the pastor had decided to carefully cut away the pages, put them in plastic, and each time the congregation got together they would give the page they had read or memorized to another brother, and receive a different one in return. It humbles me to this day, realizing what some have had to go through just to get their hands on the Word of God, just to hear the words of life spoken to them, and it likewise saddens me how little regard so many have for the Bible today.

We must realize how truly precious the Word of God is, and when we come to this realization we will treat it with the requisite respect and esteem.

1 Peter 2:1-3, “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

The Word of God is food for the believer; it is the spiritual succor we require in order to grow. If indeed we have tasted that the Lord is gracious, then we will find our delight in His word, we will hunger for more of Him, and desire to know Him more intimately with each passing day.

Do not squander the opportunity you have to read the Word of God, to know it and let it feed your soul, because the mere fact that you can hold a Bible in your hand today is a blessing and a grace not all the followers of Jesus have.

The Word of God is the foundation upon which the household of faith sits; it is the foundation upon which the Temple of God stands here on earth.

It is the Word of God that is the barometer for healthy teaching, it is the Word of God that is the barometer for healthy doctrine, and if a given teaching or doctrine is outside the Word or contradicts it, it is not for the consumption of the children of God.

1 Timothy 6:3-5, “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.”

So those who come with new teaching and new doctrine that is not according to godliness, are not enlightened, they’re not thinking outside the box, they’re not rediscovering Jesus, they’re not making God more accessible to the world by bringing Him down to their level, they are proud, knowing nothing, of corrupt minds, and destitute of truth. The words Paul used to describe men who do not consent to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who do not teach doctrine according to godliness are by no means gentle or kind. The words Paul uses are in fact quite harsh, but he does so to make a point, and the point is this: do not give heed to those who would present you with another Jesus, do not give heed to those who do not consent to the words of Christ, but rather, withdraw yourself from such individuals because they are destitute of truth, and their only purpose in godliness is material gain.

No, the wolves that roam about denying the words of Jesus, or presenting Him as some sort of money fairy rather than Lord and King are not harmless, they are not inoffensive, they are men destitute of truth who seek to deceive the sheep of God’s household.

1 Timothy 6:20-21, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it, some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 85

The Advent Part 77

Acts 2:42, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

So what did the disciples do upon seeing three thousand men converted in one day? Did they start making plans to build a building, have arguments about who would be their designated bishop, start an expansion fund, lease a private jet, or put together an advertising budget? They did what they had always done, they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. All realized it was not about them, they realized it was not about building their own personal kingdoms on earth, they realized it was not about name recognition or market share, it was about the Christ, the One who bought them with the price of His blood, it was about exhorting people to repentance and a new life in Him, and if prayer, the breaking of bread, fellowship and continuing steadfastly in doctrine had worked for them up until that point, why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

Man has this inane tendency to try and help God out, to try and improve on something that God has ordained or established, not realizing that all we are doing by attempting to help God is hindering His plan and inserting ourselves into something that is entirely His doing.

‘Well, yes, God stirs the hearts, God draws people unto Himself, but we have to do something to get them to come to church, so every other Sunday we’ll have a raffle, on Wednesdays we’ll have free coffee and donuts, and once a month we will have a free car giveaway. That ought to grow the congregation.’

So what was it that the apostles and disciples of Christ offered the three thousand souls who received the word of God with gladness and were baptized? What added incentive did these men have to follow after Jesus knowing full well that they would be persecuted, maligned, ostracized, and hated? Did they get a new donkey, perhaps a new cart, a few shekels or a new cloak?

Nothing was offered them by way of compensation, there was no added incentive material or otherwise, yet three thousand came to Christ in one day. There is power in the Word of God, there is power in the preaching of the gospel of Christ, and the way that men’s hearts are pierced, the way that they are stirred to repentance is by hearing the true and undefiled Scripture being preached to them.

We overthink and overcomplicate something that ought to be so simple. The way we can grow a congregation today is the way that it was done two thousand years ago, by prayer and fellowship, by continuing steadfastly in the Word of God, and by preaching a risen Christ to all who would hear.

Within the preceding verse we see four principal aspects by which a new life in Christ can mature at an optimum level. These four aspects are as the four walls of a house, or the four wheels of a car, all necessary for the wellbeing of an individual or a congregation of believers. First we have apostles’ doctrine, or as it is known today the Scripture or the Word of God. Second, we have fellowship, the brotherly bond that is a necessity within the household of faith, something that has been lost within many a congregation among the power plays and machinations of those who desire position rather than subservience to God.

Third, we have the breaking of bread, and fourth we have prayer. Without these things the household of faith cannot mature properly, it cannot grow from faith to faith and from grace to grace, and as is the case with a car or with a home, all four are necessary for the Body to function properly.

The Christian life is only possible if we remain steadfast in the things that keep it. First is teaching, which is spiritual nourishment, second is prayer which is spiritual oxygen, third is fellowship which is the requisite spiritual environment, and fourth is the breaking of bread which is the refreshing of one’s mind, or the bringing to remembrance of that which Jesus taught and what He desires for our lives.

When we neglect prayer, when we neglect fellowship when we neglect teaching, when we neglect being refreshed by the power of the Holy Spirit, we begin to wither, and become spiritually dry.

Many a soul has grown spiritually dry and brittle not because of some debilitating sin, but because they neglected their spiritual man. By neglecting prayer, by neglecting the study of the Word, by neglecting fellowship with the brethren, by neglecting communion with the Holy Spirit, we begin to wither spiritually.

Just as our physical bodies cannot survive without air, food, water, heat and rest, as these are the fundamental necessities for human survival, the Body of Christ cannot survive without the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Yes, the disciples had received the Holy Spirit, yet they continued to be steadfast in prayer, in teaching, in fellowship and in the breaking of bread. Steadfastness has a beginning, but it can never have an end in the life of a believer. We must be constant in our desire for more of God, we must be constant in our prayer life, and we must be constant in the studying of the Word, because there is not a soul in this world that has reached a point in their spiritual walk for whom these things are no longer necessary. Steadfastness or constancy is the vessel in which the gifts of God are kept. We not only come to the knowledge of truth, we must remain in it, we not only receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we must grow in them. Our journey, our progress, our maturity, and our growth end when this present life ends. We must run the race to completion, faithfully and consistently, for it is only when we have finished the race that we receive our crown.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 84

The Advent Part 76

Acts 2:41, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

No, not all who had gathered and heard Peter’s words received them gladly, but those who did were baptized, and the total number was about three thousand souls. As anointed as a message might be, and as passionately delivered, not all who hear will receive the words of life gladly. It does however begin with preaching the words of life, and it is our responsibility as children of God to do just that. We must do our part, and God will do His part. We must preach the gospel, we must sow the seed, and God will make certain that the seed takes root and that faith is stirred in the heart of the hearer.

These three thousand souls would have never been baptized, they would have never come to the saving knowledge of Christ if they had not first and foremost heard the words of life. There is an established order by which the work of God progresses and the work of God in the heart of man begins with the hearing of the Word.

The order that God has established for our redemption and salvation is first the hearing of His Word, then faith upon hearing the word, followed by repentance, baptism, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and a continued life of obedience to the precepts of Christ.

Romans 10:16-17, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Receiving the word of God by faith is something that we as individuals are responsible for. Not all have obeyed the gospel, because they chose not to obey the gospel. God cannot do this on our behalf, it is we who must obey, it is we who must submit, and it is we who must allow faith to take root in our hearts. The sign that we have gladly received the word, the sign that we have obeyed the gospel is that we be baptized.

Being baptized before one receives the Word goes against God’s order; it is a human invention, that has no biblical basis or foundation. Baptism, like all the fundamental doctrines of the Bible can be readily understood if rather than seek to assume what the Word of God means, or impose our belief of what it should mean, we allow the Word to speak to us then submit to it with humility and brokenness.

One can know the letter of the law, as these devout men had surely known it, yet be ignorant to the gospel. You know you have heard the gospel when you are cut to the heart, when it compels you to righteousness and holiness and repentance, when it presents you with the true face of your sins, and reveals the humbling truth that there is forgiveness at the foot of the cross.

There are countless preachers today who never preach the gospel, yet who call themselves preachers nevertheless. There are countless evangelists whose mission and purpose is to make people feel at ease, and cajole them into opening their wallets, rather than exhort them to repentance and newness of life.

1 Peter 1:22-25, “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, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 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, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”

Three thousand souls is no small number, and it would be an enviable figure even if it were the total amount of souls won by Peter throughout his ministry, never mind in one day, through one sermon. Up to that point, it was the largest number of souls won for Christ in a single day.

What we must realize is that this wasn’t just Peter’s victory, it was the direct and undeniable work of the Holy Spirit, for it was He that put the words on Peter’s lips which then cut the people to their heart.

The apostles saw the fulfillment of Christ’s promise that day, having done greater works than those which Christ had done.

John 14:12, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

On the day the Church was born, the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended, we also see it multiplying exponentially. From a handful of people, some hundred and twenty souls, almost instantaneously the Church had grown to over three thousand.

There have been naysayers throughout the years that have questioned the veracity of the three thousand souls being baptized in one day claiming that it was just too large a number for such a short period of time. If there were only one body of water in Jerusalem, perhaps they would have a point, but there were many artificial lakes and pools that the disciples could have used to baptize such a large group of people. Just off the top of my head, there was the pool of Bethesda, Hezekiah’s pool, the pool of Siloam, Gihon springs, and the upper and lower pools mentioned by Isaiah. All the apostles took part in baptizing those who had been cut to the heart upon hearing the word of God; it wasn’t just Peter, even though he had been the one to deliver the gospel to them.

This is how the Congregation of God began on earth, made up of the apostles, disciples who had walked with Jesus, and the Jews and proselytes who believed the testimony of Peter, heeded his exhortation and received the gospel with gladness.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 83

The Advent Part 75

Acts 2:40, “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, ‘saying, ‘be saved from this perverse generation.’”

When God is our portion, then His Word becomes a joy to us, living in us, growing in us, and we confess His word with power and authority whenever and wherever we are given the opportunity.

Although he was an uneducated and untrained man, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter found the right words, and delivered them with such power that it convinced those hearing him as to the truth of salvation, and that it could be attained through none other except through Christ Jesus. Love finds the means and ways to reach its objective, because love never gives up, and it never relents.

Peter not only testified of Christ, but he also exhorted his hearers to be saved from that perverse generation. Our duty as children of God is to both testify of the goodness, mercy and saving grace of our Lord, but also exhort those to whom we are testifying to repent and be saved. To exhort is defined as urging by strong and often stirring argument, and that to which we are to exhort those to whom we speak is repentance at the foot of the cross of Christ.

Here he was, standing before an assembled crowd of devout men, some of whom had just finished mocking him and his fellow disciples, all of whom had been guilty of the murder of Christ, yet Peter is fearless in exhorting them to turn to God, and receive His Son Jesus by faith as Savior, Lord and King.

Fast forward two thousand years to those who likewise claim to be disciples of Christ, those who purport to be ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven, and although at least for now no one is threating us, or persecuting us, imprisoning us or killing us, most of us can’t be bothered to exhort anyone to turn to Christ.

‘What will people say? They’ll think me one of those weird fundamentalists who can’t talk about anything else except Jesus. I need to show them that even though I’m a Christian I can be funny, and engaging, and aware of current trends and events; I can’t just go up to them and urge them to come to Christ, that would be so embarrassing.’

It is becoming more evident with each passing day that the words Jesus spoke concerning those who would be ashamed of Him and His words are true, as is everything else Jesus has ever said. When we neglect exhorting people to come to Christ because we fear we’ll be lumped in with the peculiar people, when we neglect testifying of Christ because we fear someone might malign or otherwise defame us, we are in essence ashamed of Him and His words.

Luke 9:26, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”

When we are silent concerning the Christ, not only are we callously watching people headed for perdition without showing the least bit of empathy or love, something we could readily do by telling them of the life and hope they can have in Jesus, there is also a penalty for our silence, and it is a steep penalty indeed. If we are ashamed of Christ and His words, He will likewise be ashamed of us when He comes in His own glory.

If we are silent concerning Christ now, if we omit exhorting people to be saved from this perverse generation now, what will we do when the household of God will essentially be muzzled? If now we are silent and ashamed of Christ and His words, what will we do when speaking the name of Jesus will be a punishable offense, and when exhorting people to repent will be seen as a hate crime?

‘But that will never happen here’ is the often heard response of those who can’t be bothered to be either hot or cold, content in their lukewarm state until God spews them out of His mouth. To that I say there are many things we thought would never happen here that are happening here.

Mark my words, the day is coming, and it is not afar off when preaching the true Christ, the Christ of the Bible, will be a punishable offense even in this nation. We have quickened our pace toward the darkness, and those who ought to be defending the truth, and upholding the righteousness of God are nowhere to be found.

The enemy has done a masterful job at distracting the children of God, he has done a masterful job at offering bits and morsels of power and influence to those who we deem our spiritual betters, all the while whispering in their ear that if they desired to hold onto the influence they’ve garnered they have to cut back on all the Jesus stuff. And so rather than testify of Christ and exhort men everywhere to be saved, we’ve watered down our message, and shifted the focus to the things of this earth.

If ever we mention Jesus it is within the context of Him being a great humanitarian, of Him feeding five thousand people with some fishes and loaves, of Him being generous or slow to anger, but as far as Him being the only way into the Kingdom of God, well, that’s just a little too controversial nowadays.

We must do the work of He who sent us while it is day; we must exhort people to be saved from this perverse generation, because God will not do for us what is incumbent of us to do ourselves. Lot had to leave Sodom in order to be saved, just as men must leave the way of death that they might walk the path of life. If we are Disciples of Christ, if we are ambassadors of the kingdom, then we must be about the Father’s business, and exhort all who would hear to be saved and reconciled unto God.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 82

The Advent Part 74

Acts 2:39, “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord God will call.”

The promise to which Peter is referring is the promise of the Holy Spirit. Although to some it might seem like I’m beating a dead horse, once again I feel I need to reemphasize the fact that if the advent of the Holy Spirit were somehow a temporary thing, a transitional timeframe in which the church would get its bearings and begin to grow, then Peter would have worded the preceding verse quite differently.

Consider that Peter said this promise was to those who were presently hearing him speak, to their children, but also to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord God will call. If as some claim the Holy Spirit was among us only for a season, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the passing of the last apostle, why would the selfsame Holy Spirit inspire Peter to speak the words that he spoke?

Knowing that God is no respecter of persons, knowing that God does not show preferential treatment to a given generation, seeing the words of Peter, of Paul, as well as the words of Christ concerning the Comforter, the Helper or the Holy Spirit, we must realize that since its advent the Holy Spirit has been among us, and will continue to be until the age of grace comes to its conclusion.

There is one scripture to which those who insist on cessation point to time and again, a scripture that they take out of context to make their point, while ignoring all the other scriptures that have to do with the Holy Spirit and the fact that He is still among us.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10, “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away with.”

So here Paul tells us that prophecies will fail, tongues will cease, and knowledge will vanish away, but he also tells us when these things will occur. It is when ‘that which is perfect has come’ that these things will cease to be, it is when that which is perfect has come, when we see Him face to face that we will know just as we are also known, and that there will no longer be need for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is when Christ returns for His Bride, it is when we will see Him face to face, it is when we will be transformed in the blink of an eye that prophecies will fail and tongues cease and knowledge vanish away, and not a minute before.

1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

Whatever progresses humanity might make, whatever innovative new gadgets we might invent, however much we would like to consider ourselves wiser than our predecessors, the Word of God remains the same, as God remains the same, yesterday today and forevermore, and try as men might to twist the Word to accommodate the masses, eternal life is still attainable only through Christ, through faith in Him, in His sacrifice, and in His Word.

Just as the Word of God does not change, His promises toward His children do not change. The promises of God remain as viable, as true, as attainable today as they were two thousand years ago, and if Jesus promised that He would send a Helper who would be with us, and in us until the end of time, then we must trust in His promises and desire all that He has for us.

Yes, I’ve heard it all before just as I am sure you have, that we must change the Word of God to accommodate the changing times, that we must make the message of the cross and the message of salvation more attractive to the new generation, that the biblically accurate, repentance centered, and Christ endued sermons just don’t cut it anymore, and that in order to bring people into the house of God, we must present the gospel to them in such a way that it does not cause them to bristle or feel as though they need to change.

Enough people kept insisting that all we needed was to tweak the message, make church more entertaining, and make the world feel at ease within the house of God, that we took the bait and did exactly as they were insisting we do. We stopped mentioning Jesus, we stopped mentioning the cross, we stopped preaching repentance, we stopped teaching on the power of the Holy Spirit, we replaced prayer night with pizza night, only to realize that after having done all that, we’re still hemorrhaging souls, people are coming to church with less frequency and in less numbers, and those that still remain have such a muddled and confused concept of God, they are so impotent and void of power, that the enemy no longer sees them as a viable threat.

It is because we have strayed from the true definition of what the household of faith, or the congregation of the saints is biblically, and have redefined it to suit our own agendas, aspirations and dare I say greed, that we have lost our identity, ignored our purpose, and are the house of God in name only.

Revelation 3:15-18, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot, I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 81

The Advent Part 73

Since we were already on the on the subject  before our brief interlude yesterday, and I find wasting an opportunity to preach the truth inexcusable, I would also like to deal with some of the misconceptions and outright fallacies concerning baptism that have been sweeping through the household of faith for some time now.

The first misconception is that the act of water baptism itself is what cleanses us of our sins. No it is not water baptism that cleanses us of our sins, but rather God, through His word toward which man must be in submission. Without the requisite repentance, without the requisite obedience toward God and His word, without the requisite transformation, the act of baptism is merely being dunked in water with one’s clothes on. Water baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God, an outwardly manifestation of an already existent inner transformation.

1 Peter 3:21-22, “There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”

A disturbing number of individuals deceive themselves by believing that they can continue living as they lived, that they can continue being slaves of sin and corruption, but because they were dipped in a pool, or a lake, or a river, they are in right standing with God and God will have no choice but to welcome them into His eternal kingdom. We are transformed by the power of the Word, we are transformed by the grace of Christ, and water baptism is the confession that truly we have been made new, born again and sanctified.

The second misconception that is rampant within certain denominations is that water baptism somehow replaces the need to believe in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, to repent, or to live in obedience toward God.

‘Well brother you know, I never really repented of my sins, I have my doubts about Jesus being the only way, the only truth and the only life, I am in constant rebellion toward the precepts, commandments, and will of God, but I was baptized in water, so that’s something.’

I can’t help but feel pity for those individuals who approach water baptism as some sort of fire insurance, doing it just to get it done, thinking to themselves that because they performed this one act, because they took a dip in some tepid water than eternal glory is guaranteed them.

There will come a day when all men will stand before the sovereign God of the universe, men who not only got dunked in a pool on a warm summer’s day, but who actually cast out demons in the name of Jesus, men who had power and authority, yet who never knew Christ on an intimate level nor lived the life of Christ, who will be commanded to depart from before His holy face for He never knew them.

We must live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ, we must live lives wholly devoted to Him, and we must live lives of submission and obedience, having the fullness of Jesus in our hearts and not merely on our lips. It is not the act of water baptism that saves, it is Christ that saves and as such He is our life, He is our all in all, and He is the object of our adoration.

Because we have taken our eyes off Jesus, because we have taken our eyes off the cross of Christ, there are those within the household of God who will not regard others as brothers because they differ on whether someone should be sprinkled or submerged when being baptized. Such individuals have made baptism their focus, rather than Christ, and it is to their detriment that they have done this.

There is a danger in taking our eyes off Jesus, even if it is to focus them on something spiritual or of Biblical importance. Whether it’s the doctrine of baptisms, end times prophecy, or the unraveling of the mysteries of the book of Revelation, if any of these things take preeminence over the person of Jesus then it becomes spiritually debilitating if not outright harmful. It is through the blood of Christ, it is through the blood of the new Covenant that was shed for us that our sins are washed away, that we are made new and born of God, and this is a truth that must be ever at the forefront of our minds.

There is nothing wrong in studying prophecy, there is nothing wrong in studying the book of Revelation, there is nothing wrong in studying the doctrine of baptisms, but these cannot be done at the expense of neglecting our relationship and intimacy with Christ. We must prioritize our time in such a way that Jesus is first on the list, and that when we are in fellowship with Him there are no constraints or limitations.

Philippians 1:27-28, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith for the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.”

Our duty as believers is to stand fast in one spirit, to be of one mind, and to strive together for the faith of the gospel. Our duty is not to form groupings and parties, and offshoots and splinter groups, it is not to promote the doctrinal beliefs of a certain denomination, it is not to glory in men or to lift up men, but rather to be centered in Christ, rooted in Him, guided by Him, and victorious through Him.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On The Road Again!

Having arrived back in the States a couple days ago, yesterday was the first chance I had to see the tour schedule, and it is undeniable that we will be hitting the ground running. For those of you that have written in asking where I will be speaking, the following is the travel itinerary for the next four days. As yet, I do not know what I will be speaking on, but I am certain the Lord will give a word as He always does. Tomorrow we will be continuing our excursion into the power, presence and purpose of the Holy Spirit, being keenly aware that what I thought would be some forty posts is now eighty, and we still haven’t gotten to the individual gifts yet.

I ask that you keep me and Gene in your prayers as we travel, and I will do my best to continue posting daily, although I cannot promise it. If you live near any of the places listed below, and have no prior engagements, feel free to come and fellowship. No, I will not make any bombastic promises that you will never be the same again, or that your life will be forever changed if you come to one of the meetings, but what I can promise is that whatever message God puts on my heart, it will be Biblical, and rooted in the truth of God's Word.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday October 21, 2011 7:00 PM
The Spirit of Prophecy Church
Comfort Suites North Point
404 North Pointe Blvd.
Elkhart, IN 46514
Contact: Hand of Help 920-206-9910

Saturday October 22, 2011 6:30 PM
Faith Fellowship
Seventh Day Baptist Church
Covenant Baptist Church
8201 McCrory Lane
Nashville, TN 37221
Contact: Hand of Help 920-206-9910

Sunday October 23, 2011 10:00 AM
Gospel Tabernacle
2525 Rampley Trail
Canton, GA 30114
Pastor James Cantrell Contact: Hand of Help 920-206-9910

Sunday October 23, 2011 6:00 PM
Burnt Mountain Holy Bible Church
1283 Orchard Rd.
Jasper, GA 30143
Rev Kenneth Carter Contact: Hand of Help 920-206-9910

Monday October 24, 2011 6:30 PM
Grace Lutheran Church
9076 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, TN 37923
Church Office: 865-691-2823 Michael Murphy 865-898-2711

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 80

The Advent Part 72

First repentance, then baptism, then the receiving of the Holy Spirit, this is the order that Peter laid out to those who were hearing him preach. Are there exceptions to this order? Yes, and Lord willing we will go into a couple of those Biblical exceptions, but as a general rule, this is how a soul comes to the knowledge of truth, is born again, and endued with power from on high.

Repentance and baptism are things to which man contributes, things that man must initiate, but the baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit is a work of God, something He initiates, and something He gives us as a gift.

Yes, we can pray to receive the Holy Spirit, we can likewise fast to receive the Holy Spirit, but the timing thereof is reserved exclusively for God, and it is He who chooses when to pour out, when to fill us, as well as what gifting we are to receive.

Although we ought to, as Paul admonishes us ‘earnestly desire the best gifts’, the final decision as to what gifts we receive is up to God and God alone. When we understand the nature of the body of Christ, and acknowledge the fact that the body is not one member but many, we come to realize the importance of every gift within the household of faith, and that in order for the body to be healthy and vibrant all the gifts must be operating within the congregation.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”

Both repentance and baptism as well as the infilling of the Holy Spirit are individual works, and not collective. God searches every heart individually, and pours into every heart individually.

Since we covered repentance if ever so briefly, I want to discuss baptism for a while seeing as it is one of two things that Peter told the assembled crowd they must do in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

First, seeing as repentance is first required before one can be baptized, the notion of infant baptism is a nonstarter. One cannot repent as an infant since they do not possess the mental faculty to do so. As such, the act of baptism ought to take place when an individual is old enough to know the difference between good and evil, and is able to repent before God.

Second, faith and baptism are two very different things. Faith cannot replace baptism, except in certain exceptional circumstances such as the thief on the cross, nor can baptism replace faith.

Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

The first to highlight the importance of the practice of baptism, was none other than Christ Jesus, who taught His apostles the doctrine of baptism, and in turn the apostles taught those who came to the faith after Christ’s ascension.

Christ’s teaching on baptism is simple and clear for any soul that desires salvation.

Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 16:15-16, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’”

From the words that Christ spoke both in Matthew and Mark there are certain truths that we can readily deduce.

First, baptism is a confession of an individual’s faith in Christ Jesus, an outward testimony of an inner truth.

Second, an individual that has not come to the faith, or that has not come to believe in Jesus cannot be baptized. Jesus clearly said, that he who believes and is baptized will be saved, not merely he who is baptized. Baptism is a delineation marker, a clear and visible border between the sinful past, and the new life in Christ.

There are countless doctrines that have been bantered about concerning baptism, sadly most of them based on presuppositions rather than the infallible and unshakable truth of God’s word. It is because certain men presupposed certain things that there is the confusion concerning infant baptism, and it is likewise because men took it upon themselves to add to the gospel of Christ that there is still the ongoing confusion as to whether men should be baptized in the name of Jesus, or in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus made it clear, He told us how we must proceed, and how men ought to be baptized, but thinking ourselves wiser than our Master, we attempt to insert a little of ourselves in what is the work of God.

Just as a side note, the reason the apostles said that men ought to now be baptized in the name of Jesus is to reaffirm to those of their time that the baptism of John had ended with his death, and that within the congregation of God there is one baptism, the baptism of faith in the name of Jesus, but also that Jesus is one with the Father as well as with the Holy Spirit.

I bring this up only because I’ve known individuals who have been water baptized upwards of six or seven times, because with each new influx of aberrant doctrine they are swayed into going back into the water just to make sure they got it right.

Jesus showed us the way, He drew the map, He gave us specific and explicit instructions; all we have to do is follow.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 79

The Advent Part 71

Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let ever one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Those who had been cut to the heart had asked a question, perhaps the most important question of their lives, and Peter gives them the answer poignantly and succinctly. They had asked what they should do, and Peter simply tells them, ‘repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.’

If we were to ask Christ the same question when He walked the earth, we would receive the same answer from Him as well, namely that we must repent, and if today we were to ask God Himself, the answer would be identical as well.

Ever since God called me to ministry and I began preaching, unless I was doing a teaching on a certain topic like the end times, or an exegesis on a certain Bible passage like we are doing now, every sermon has centered on repentance because it is of paramount importance to those who would seek to be reconciled unto God.

Preaching repentance has fallen out of favor in our day and age, and few men still possess the wherewithal to preach it consistently, but just because men have strayed from the truth, it does not change the reality of truth. Repentance is necessary for every individual, regardless of who they are, how well educated they might be, or how good a person they consider themselves to have been.

We have replaced repentance with prosperity because prosperity is easier to stomach than is the need for a transformation of one’s mind, heart, desires, actions and trajectory, but unless the Word of God has changed and I didn’t get the memo, repentance is still the first step one must undertake after being cut to the heart by the hearing of the Word of God.

So what is repentance?

Simply put, repentance is the transformation of one’s mind followed by the transformation of one’s life. Repentance isn’t just feeling sorry or feeling regret for one’s past sins, but it is the cessation of an old life of sin, and the beginning of a new life in Christ. When we truly repent of a sin, we do not return to it, we do not consider it, nor do we remember it fondly. When we truly repent, we turn from that which was death toward that which is life, that which was darkness toward that which is light.

True repentance implies our turning toward God, and away from the world, hating that which we once were realizing the death and destruction that would have surely followed if we continued down said path.

As previously mentioned the Jews that had heard Peter speak were all devout men, they were very religious, yet the message that they received upon inquiring what they should do was still one of repentance. Yes, even devout men needed repentance, and these who had assembled to hear Peter speak not only needed to repent of moral failings they might have committed, but also repent of their religiosity that they might receive the Christ who in turn gives salvation through a new life, and faith in His sacrifice and resurrection.

Repentance begins with the work of God in men’s hearts, that of His Word cutting to the depths of our being, and is then followed by the transformation of which every Biblical writer speaks.

Another aspect of repentance that we must take into account is that of confession, another practice of the early church that has largely fallen out of favor in our modern era. Whether due to the fact that some consider confession an embarrassing exercise, or because they fear that their confessor will spread the news of their past sins like a wildfire in the Arizona desert, countless souls go about their lives with sins that they have not confessed weighing them down and grinding them into the earth. The Word is clear, confession of one’s faults and sins must be a practice that accompanies repentance, that once our sin is confessed and repented of it is likewise forgiven.

1 John 2:1-2, “My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

1 John 1:9, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

In this sense, repentance is not a one-time event in a believer’s life, but something that is practiced as often as one stumbles on the path of righteousness. If we transgress against God, then we repent and confess our transgression before Him that we might be forgiven. If we transgress against a brother or a sister, then we confess and ask forgiveness of the individual, but also of God since He is the only one that can forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

There is a conditionality placed on the act of confession, the Word telling us that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us.

For such a little word, the word ‘if’ has great impact, and whenever it is used in the Bible, we must acknowledge the conditionality of what follows it. Some have even gone so far as to say that the word ‘if’ is the biggest word in the Bible, because of the varied implications that one can readily deduce whenever it is used. Yes, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and once more we see the reciprocity of action, and the undeniable truth that God requires certain things of us, things that we must dutifully carry out that we might be in right standing with Him.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 78

The Advent Part 70

Acts 2:37, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

As a fearless witness for truth and a confessor full of the boldness of Christ Peter held his discourse in front of thousands of men, who were in their own right devout, yet who blinded by tradition had crucified the Christ. Full of the Holy Spirit Peter made known to all who heard him that God had made the Jesus whom they had crucified both Lord and Christ.

With a holy courage and an unshakable love Peter named the sin of the men who stood before him, not attempting to sugar coat it, or deliver it with less of a sting. Like a sword his words cut to the people’s hearts, not only because the words Peter had spoken were the truth, but because they were imbued with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit strengthened the word of truth in the conscience of Peter’s hearers, and cut to the heart they acknowledged their culpability, guilt and complicity in the events that had transpired. They realized that indeed the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was held against them as sin and rebellion against the one true God.

The truth had been spoken, the Holy Spirit had pierced the hearts, and once this occurs in the life of an individual, the Word of God never returns void and without fruit. This is why we must speak the truth even if it is uncomfortable for the hearer; this is why we must speak the truth even though we will be hated for doing so. It is the truth, it is the testimony of Jesus the embodiment of truth that takes root in a heart and brings forth the fruit of repentance.

In order for anyone to be cut to the heart, first and foremost they must hear the truth; they must hear the unadulterated Word. It is hearing the Word of God that is the doorway by which the heart of the sinner can come to faith and repentance. We hear many things throughout our lives, every day it seems we are inundated with something, yet it is only the Word of God that has the power to pierce the heart and bring souls to repentance.

Just as it is not enough to hear of a good doctor but one must follow through and submit to his scalpel in order to be cured, we must submit to the living Word of God and allow it to pierce our hearts in order to be cured of the malady that is sin.

Hearing the Word must be followed by the piercing of the heart. No, not every heart can be pierced by the sword of God’s Word, because there are hearts that have long turned to stone. Sin hardens the heart, it turns the heart to stone, and the more one persists in sin the harder and more unfeeling the heart becomes.

Hebrews 3:14-15, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Sin not confessed is a great danger for it stands as a roadblock between the heart and the Word of God, and likewise dulls the understanding of those who persist in it. With each passing day a sin that is not confessed and repented of grows in its reach, in its size, and what seemed perverse and defiled to the conscience of the individual a month or a year ago, becomes common practice and something readily accepted. The understanding of God’s holiness, righteousness, and justice that once burned bright, the knowledge and delineation between that which is good and that which is evil that once formed the foundation of one’s moral code all become jumbled, and the lines become blurred, until men find themselves calling darkness light, and light darkness.

Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

When discussing this passage of scripture in Acts, some have wondered what the other apostles were doing while Peter was speaking. Some have said that they were just standing there, while others have even gone so far as to say that what the other apostles were doing will forever remain a mystery, but personally I do not believe this to be so. What I believe the other apostles were doing while Peter was speaking was translating in other languages that which Peter was saying. Not all who had gathered to see and hear spoke Aramaic, for many had gathered from every land, yet they were all cut to the heart.

Men react one of two ways upon hearing the Word of God: they either harden their hearts, refusing to receive the message God is speaking to them, or they are cut to the heart and ask as those of old asked, ‘what shall we do?’

No matter how hard we try, no matter how much effort we put in, no matter how much we plead, in the end it is God who must pierce the heart, and it is the individual who must ask what it is that must be done. I can’t convert anyone, I can’t change anyone’s heart, all I can do is sow the seed of the Word and let God water it, and mature it, and bring forth fruit in due season. If God doesn’t pierce the heart, than a raised hand at the end of a service becomes nothing more than a formality, something forgotten as quickly as it was done.

My duty is to sow seed, my duty is to preach the Word, not keep an account of how many of the seeds fell in good soil. The sower does his duty, the sower sows, leaving the rest in the hands of God.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 77

The Advent Part 69

Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When God makes you something even if men crucify you they can’t change the reality of what God has made you. When men make you something however, they can change you and marginalize you, and knock you off your pedestal at the first sign of being out of lockstep with their preconceived notions and denominational beliefs. It is far better, by far, for God to make you something than for men to make you something.

Let all the house of Israel know, let every nation know, let every tribe, every tongue and every people know that assuredly God made this Jesus, both Lord and Christ, and soon He will return to judge the world in righteousness.

One thing that I find admirable in Peter’s discourse, and something that is tragically lacking in our day and age, is the brutal honesty with which he delivered his message. There was no attempt to be politically correct, there was no attempt to spare feelings, there was no attempt to stroke bruised egos, Peter was forthright and truthful, and as is often the case the truth was a painful thing for the people to hear.

‘God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’

Yes, Peter could have left out the part about them having crucified Christ, but in order to once more show their complicity in murdering the Son of God, in order to once more show the guilt and the blood that was on their hands for having put to death the innocent, pure, and sinless Christ, he included it in his discourse.

It would seem nowadays we are more concerned about sparing someone’s feelings than we are about speaking the truth boldly. From famous ‘pastors’ who go on television and deny the sovereignty, singularity, and deity of Christ, to other less famous ones who continue to insist that many paths will ultimately lead to the same destination, to the newcomers who deny the existence of hell or the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven altogether, truth it seems has been marginalized, made to sit in a corner and keep silent.

No matter the opposition however, the truth will prevail as Christ has prevailed for He is the truth.

With this verse Peter ends his discourse, the first ever sermon preached in the history of the church after the advent of the Holy Spirit. As we will see later in this chapter, it was a sermon that made an impact, and cut those who heard it to their hearts. No, it was not overly eloquent, it was not wordy, but it was inspired, it was infused with the power of the Holy Spirit and as such had the desired effect.

No Peter never took a class on homiletics, he never practiced sermon delivery in the mirror, he didn’t have a speech writer, he was dependent on the Holy Spirit who taught him to be a witness for Christ Jesus, and his short sermon was so concise and so full of spiritual succor that it puts many longer sermons of contemporary and well known orators to shame.

As with any sermon that stirs the hearts of men the central theme was the person of Christ Jesus, His direct relation to the Father, and the work that He does in the hearts of men via the Holy Spirit.

We see four major points in Peter’s sermon, all having to do with Christ, four snapshots of His journey here on earth, namely His life, His death, His resurrection and His ascension. We likewise see the titles of absolute sovereignty that Christ holds, being Lord over all, be it the universe, the world, time, or eternity, and being the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one of Israel.

Yes, God made Jesus both Lord and Christ, but in order for us to have eternal life we must also sanctify the Lord in our hearts.

1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

In essence what this means is that Jesus must be Lord and Christ over my life, in a personal and intimate way, for only when He is on the throne of our hearts, when we are in complete submission and obedience toward Him, will we possess the hope of eternity, and the knowledge that we will be with Him in glory.

Jesus cannot be a general Lord, or a general Christ, something that we acknowledge but do not submit to, he must be personal, and we must bow before Him in humility and give Him His rightful place in our hearts.

Too often I’ve heard people say that they believe in Jesus, but as yet they have not made Him Lord and Christ of their hearts. Even the demons believe and they tremble, yet they do not do the will of God.

James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble.”

So what is the will of God? The will of God is that we believe in His Son Jesus, that we are holy and sanctified unto Him, that He is Lord and King and Master of our lives, that there is nothing in our hearts that takes preeminence over Him, that we walk humbly and meekly with our Lord, and that we preach the name of Jesus to all who would hear.

1 Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 76

The Advent Part 68

Acts 2:34-35, “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”

David did not ascend into the heavens, but Christ Jesus did, and His followers, spiritually speaking are already sitting together in Him, in the heavenly places.

David could not ascend into the heavens because the way therein was shut until the moment Jesus Christ the risen ascended into the heavens. It is Christ who reconciled us unto the Father, it is Christ who is the way into the Kingdom of heaven, and no man can enter unless they are likewise in Christ.

Because Christ became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross, He is now exalted above all others, and as David prophesies now sits at the right hand of God.

Philippians 2:8-11, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

From the moment that Jesus receives the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, which He then pours out upon His disciples on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit began the work of building up the congregation of God, the Body of Christ, and Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Yes, spiritually speaking He is with all His disciples, even to the end of the age, and through the Holy Spirit is able to comfort and encourage, rebuke and edify.

Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

We know that Jesus ascended into heaven, because this event was witnessed by the disciples, and they testified of it time and again. Now if Jesus ascended into heaven, and as some assert the Holy Spirit is likewise no longer among us, then what Jesus said concerning being with us always, even to the end of the age would no longer be true.

We know that Jesus doesn’t lie; we know that He is the embodiment of truth, and that there is no shadow of turning in Him. If He said that He would be with us always, even to the end of the age then He meant it, He keeps His word, and does as He promises. The only way that Jesus could be with us always, even to the end of the age, is for the Holy Spirit to still be among us, doing the work that Jesus intended Him to do once the Father gave it to Him.

It’s easy to nonchalantly wave a hand and roll our eyes and say ‘God doesn’t do that anymore, and the Holy Spirit is no longer among us’ but once we begin to dig a little deeper and see what our assertions imply, once we begin to see that by denying the presence of the Holy Spirit with us and in us today we are in essence calling Jesus a liar, it becomes allot more difficult to just broad stroke everything, and be so passé in our proclamations.

After telling Jesus to sit at His right hand, God also promised that He would make His enemies His footstool. In fact God said Jesus was to sit at His right hand until this came to pass.

Jesus has always had and continues to have enemies. There is no shortage of enemies when it comes to Jesus, and by extension, His bride, His Body, likewise has an abundance of enemies. If we are one with Christ, then our enemies are His enemies, and the day is coming when those enemies will be made His footstool.

I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that God the Father does not have as many enemies as Christ the Son.

If someone speaks of God as Creator of heaven and earth, there may be some reaction, but often times it is muted and lacking in vitriol. If we speak of Jesus however as the Redeemer of those who were dead in their sins, as Lord and King and the Groom who is to come, the reaction is fierce, the vitriol palpable, and the intensity with which the attacks come are often frightening to behold.

The God, who is a God of perfect love, is also a God of perfect justice, and He will make the enemies of His Son Jesus His footstool. Knowing that there will come a day when the enemies of the cross and the enemies of Christ will be made His footstool, knowing that there will come a day when perfect justice will reign supreme, we do not fear the slings and arrows of the enemy, we do not fear the vitriol and hatred of those who despise our Master, but with courage and boldness proclaim His holy name.

We have but one life to lose, and the absolute worst that the enemies of Christ can do is kill this mortal flesh. Throughout history we have seen shining examples of those who willingly lay down their lives for the cause of Christ, those who went to their deaths with songs upon their lips because they knew what awaited them, because they knew they would receive their just reward for their obedience and faithfulness. If the day comes may we be as faithful, may we be as obedient, and may we be as steadfast as those who came before us.

Romans 16:20, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 75

The Advent Part 67

When I first arrived in America and subsequently began attending school, due to my inability to speak English there were only a certain number of classes that I could take. There was of course math class, there was English as a second language, or as it was affectionately known ESL, and there was Physical Education class.

Since we were doing algebra at a high school level before I left Romania even though I had only been in the third grade math class was a breeze, ESL was fun because other than myself all the other kids were Hispanic and Spanish being a Latin based language like Romanian is I picked it up allot quicker than English, And PE had its own merits because I learned to play new sports.

The only sport I was tangentially familiar with before coming to America was soccer. Yes, Europeans play soccer like squirrels hunt for nuts, and as such it was the only sport I learned while attending school in Romania.

One day we were learning the fundamentals of basketball, which seemed simple enough: throw the ball in the basket. As it came my turn to take a shot however, and as I walked toward the hoop ball in hand, the teacher called out that I needed to dribble the ball otherwise it would be traveling.

I turned to him and shrugging my shoulders I asked why it was that I needed to dribble the ball, and his answer was one that I remember to this day.

‘Because the rules be the rules Mr. Boldea, because the rules be the rules.’

So what’s the point of this little trip down memory lane? Well, the point is that not everything that has a supernatural tint to it is automatically of God, neither is everything that gets labeled as a move of the Holy Spirit a true move of the Holy Spirit.

‘The rules be the rules’ and in the Word of God we discover what the rules are. The gifts, what they are, what their function is, and how they ought to be used is laid out in the Bible, and if something strays from the Biblical parameters established by God, then as good as it might seem, as spiritually inviting as it might be, we must be wise and cautious that we do not fall into a snare of the enemy. The reason God laid out the parameters so clearly, the reason God established the order He established within the Word of God is that we not stray, that we not be deceived, and that we not be swayed by the words of men.

If all that glitters isn’t gold, then all that shakes, faints, barks or otherwise manifests in odd and peculiar ways is not necessarily of God.

When it comes to supernatural things, when it comes to supernatural movements, and groups marketing themselves as the newest and most innovative Holy Spirit outpouring of our generation, it is incumbent upon us to be weary, it is incumbent upon us to assess, and investigate, and compare what is happening with what the Bible says ought to be happening.

Biblically there are a total of nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, these being wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues. There are also certain offices that God has established, to whom He appoints individuals such as apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, helps, administrations, and varieties of tongues, but this is a study for another time.

For now I want to focus on these nine gifts and ask a basic yet fundamental question. Why pray tell would I need to get oily hands, manifest feathers, gold dust, pearls, or glitter if these nine gifts were operating within the household of faith as they ought? Why pray tell would I feel the need to writhe on the floor like a snake, cluck like a chicken, make a fool of myself and bark like a dog, if the true power of God were made manifest within the congregation, and the nine gifts operated with frequency and power, and the presence of the Holy Spirit was evident for all to see?

I realize that on the surface the gift of wisdom or the gift of knowledge the gift of discernment or the gift of faith might not be as exciting as waking up with gold fillings or finding peacock feathers in your Bible, but those ‘plain and mundane gifts’ as I heard someone once call them, are biblical, they are found in the Word of God, and they ensure that the congregation of God will not be distracted, deceived, or otherwise caused to stray.

We want bombastic experiences, we want to be wowed, we want our lives to be like a special effects laden action movie where we go around punching people in the face in Jesus’ name, manifest some gold flakes when we need to pay the bills, get some oily hands when we want to polish the furniture, failing to realize that God is not a showman, His purpose is not to wow you or entertain you, and He is far more likely to be in the delicate whisper than He is in the strong wind, the earthquake or the fire.

How many more heartbreaks, disappointments, and disillusionments must the household of faith yet endure before it realizes the futility of chasing after signs and manifestations, and the futility of raising men up to the heights of glory only to see them come crashing back to earth?

How many more rude awakenings must we yet be privy to before we realize we ought not to take candy from strangers, we ought not to swallow every morsel that comes floating down the stream of life, and not everything supernatural has its origins in God?

Matthew 24:24-26, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 74

The Advent Part 66

Acts 2:32-33, “This Jesus God raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”

God raised up Jesus, and Peter attests to the fact that they were all witnesses to this greatest of events. In essence Peter and the rest of the disciples were simply relaying what God had done. They could neither add to nor take away from the miracle that had occurred, and they realized it was their duty to testify to what they had seen, to be witnesses to the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead. It is the duty of us all, to be witnesses to what God has done, and to what God is doing, and proclaim the truth boldly, courageously and fearlessly.

The greatest witness, the greatest testimony to the resurrection of Christ is the new life that He births in us when we are born again. We can speak great and swelling words, we can attempt to convince people of the greatness of the God we serve with well-chosen platitudes, but a life lived wholly in submission to God, a life surrendered to His will does more to turn the heart than would a thousand sermons.

It is the discrepancy between what we say and how we live that the world finds so off-putting in many modern day Christians, seeing the disconnect between the words we speak and the lives we live, and rightly surmising that the two cannot be reconciled. Much shame has been visited upon the house of God these last few decades because men who preached one thing lived in direct opposition to that which they were preaching. Hypocrisy is a stench in the nostrils of God and the world alike, it is something neither can readily stomach, yet it is something many spiritual leaders of our day practice with nonchalance.

Jesus is not our co-pilot, He is not our plus one, He is not someone we run to when we hit a snag, He is our life, and in Him we live and move and have our being. We can no more live being deprived of Christ, than this human flesh can live being deprived of oxygen.

Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

The reality of a risen Christ was alive in the heart of Peter and the disciples, and they testified of this truth, also testifying to the fact that what they had just witnessed was the promise of the Holy Spirit that had been poured out upon them.

Herein once more we see the three Persons of the triune God being presented by Peter, declaring to those who were present that after His ascension Jesus received the promise of the Holy Spirit, which He poured out over His disciples after ten days. God the Father gives the promise to God the Son, the promise being the Holy Spirit, and the Son pours the Holy Spirit upon the household of faith.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was such a real event that though they would have liked to, none who had gathered could deny it. Peter draws the men’s attention to their own eyes, to their own ears, and tells them that indeed what they had seen and what they had heard was nothing less than the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the faithful.

This was a new experience for both Peter and those who had been in the upper room, something that in and of themselves they could not describe or explain, but because the Holy Spirit was present in them, and flowed through them, the explanation Peter gave was sound, and biblical and to the point.

When the Holy Spirit is present in the heart of an individual the sings thereof are undeniable. The first thing that is evident once the Holy Spirit is poured into a heart is the power, which brings the flesh under subjection that we may grow in the fruit of the Spirit, and the second thing that is evident is the presence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed in the manner in which God sees fit for the building up of the body of Christ.

Galatians 5:16-17, “I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 12:7-11, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”

This is what the prototype of a spiritually healthy church looks like, wherein both the fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are visible, and operating, wherein it’s not just a group of individuals mumbling and grumbling and barking and clucking but in whom there is no love, no joy, no peace, no longsuffering, no kindness, no goodness, no faithfulness, no gentleness, and no self-control.

A healthy church, a biblical church lives the life of Christ, it possess the aforementioned fruit, not only living in the Spirit but also walking in the Spirit, knowing that the gifts are given to each one for the profit of all, and also knowing what the gifts are as described and defined in the Word of God.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.