Answer 20: 27 proofs of “The First Church”

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20. They had the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13; John 20:22).

Three points as to why this is no proof at all of the existence of a New Testament church:

  • The Holy Ghost has indwelt every believer since Adam.
  • The Holy Ghost will indwell all believers till the end of this earth.
  • Those in Israel who were called to perform an express ministry were gifted by the Holy Ghost to perform that ministry. (e.g. Bezaleel)

Thus, by direct statement, S. E. Anderson is supporting the supposition that, not only is the Universal church theory a valid theory, but Israel and the New Testament church are one and the same.  It should be noted that Scriptural support for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in Old Testament believers is extensive. Interestingly, the direct statements that attest to it actually come more from the New Testament than the Old, although it is not hard to find in the Old Testament. In examining I Peter, chapter 1, we find the indwelling and gifting of the Holy Ghost in Old Testament believers clearly stated:

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (I Peter 1:10-11)

The Scriptures clearly attest that the “Spirit of Christ” which is spoken of here, is the Holy Ghost.  The very plain passage of Romans, chapter 8 is unmistakable in tying the “Spirit of Christ” to the “Spirit of God,” which is the Holy Ghost:

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:9)

In the above passage the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are, without doubt, one and the same.  This being established, the above referenced passage from 1st Peter is very clear that the Holy Ghost indwelt the prophets of old, and gave them to understand that the Messiah was coming: it was simply a question of when.  This is further supported by the passage in 2nd Peter, chapter 1.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (II Peter 1:19-21)

However, there are many that believe the moving of the Holy Ghost referenced here was one of coming upon the prophets of old in a special way which is not the same as it is today when a man of God preaches, or the way that is demonstrated or spoken of in the New Testament when it speaks of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.  Therefore, it is necessary to go further and demonstrate conclusively that the Holy Ghost has always indwelt believers and guided the children of God.  The only difference between the prophets that were used to pen the Scriptures and the rest of the believers in the Old Testament, was that those used to pen the Scriptures were gifted by the Holy Ghost to do so, and knew they were being given something that must be preserved.  Moreover, those men of God that received what was written, had it confirmed by the Holy Ghost that what they were reading was indeed Scripture, and was to be kept forever, as written:

Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (Isaiah 30:8-11)

Finally, we must examine one other point in looking at the issue of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Old Testament times.  The issue of salvation in the Old Testament is very clear in Scripture: it was by grace through faith in Christ to come, even as it is by grace through faith in Christ that has come for us.  This being the case, we need to consider the following statement given in Ephesians:

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Now, if we are sealed by the Holy Ghost, of which that is part and parcel to the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and the Old Testament saints were saved the very same as we: then, by what were they sealed?  And if they were sealed by Him, then they were indwelt by Holy Ghost as well.  Otherwise, they had no earnest of their inheritance, and had no assurance of their salvation either, as it is written:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:14-17)

The above described indwelling of the Holy Ghost, is that Spirit of adoption. Moreover, He bears witness with our spirit that we are indeed the children of God.  Even so, this was the case with the believers in the Old Testament as well.  Those who believed in Christ to come for their salvation were born again, and were adopted into the family of God, and had the indwelling of the Holy Ghost even as we.  It should be noted that all these things could have been understood during Old Testament times by any one caring to know them.  The evidence for this is given in a plain statement to Nicodemus:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.  Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? (John 3:3-10)

In short, the Old Testament saints knew the very same things about salvation, including the indwelling of the Holy Ghost that we know.  Moreover, the question is plain in its implication:

  • the leadership of the Israel was supposed to know, understand, and teach these very things.

For that to be the case, the teaching of these things would have been recorded by Moses, and verified by the prophets.  If we care to examine the Old Testament Scriptures carefully, and understand how things are stated in the Old Testament, we will find all the same things that are taught in the New Testament.  The only difference is how they are stated.  Even in the Book of Job, which was written around the time of Abraham (Job was a contemporary of Abraham), all the elements of salvation are there, all one has to do is allow the Lord to show them.

With that stated, consider the following passages from the Old Testament and how they testify of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in those who were saved during that time.

And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.  And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?  And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. (Genesis 41:37-40)

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. (Exodus 31:1-5)

And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. (Numbers 27:18-19)

Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Numbers 14:22-24)

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. (Psalm 51:11)

Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.  Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. (Nehemiah 9:20-21)

Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands. (Nehemiah 9:30)

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! (Isaiah 30:1-2)

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:1-3)

By all the above evidence, it should now be clear that the Holy Ghost indwelt believers in Old Testament times.  This point should now settled, allowing us to examine the cited references S. E. Anderson uses to support his proof without the bias of thinking the indwelling and gifting of the Holy Ghost are specific to the New Testament.  In examining them, it should become apparent what they apply to, and how they ought to used.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13)

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:19-23)

If we note it, we will find a distinct difference in time between the verse in Luke and the passage in John.  We should note that one occurs prior to Christ’s death on the cross, and the other occurs the day of His resurrection.  Thus, we have here a mixing of contexts in which one does apply to the New Testament church, and the other does not.  At a minimum this is a confusing message to send.

I think what is at work here is a confusion between the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, which every believer has always had (and will have), and the gift of the Holy Ghost that is given to the New Testament church so that each member of a congregation can carry out the work the Lord has called them to do. Regardless, this supposition fails as proof as we can easily see that the indwelling and enabling by the Holy Ghost to perform certain ministries was also done in Israel.

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