sermon: The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 3)
God as a Father
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 11-Jul-98; Sermon #349; 55 minutes
'Spirit' in the vast majority of biblical contexts refers to the invisible, immaterial, internal activating dimension of the mind. It is repeatedly linked and used synonymously with heart, mind, and thoughts. Spirit (as activated by such things as cheerleading and marching bands) has the capacity to contagiously influence behavior. Satan's spirit as well as our own carnal minds (Ephesians 2:2, James 1:13) constitute compelling and impelling motivations to sin. Fortunately God has provided resources to His called-out ones, interfacing with their minds, predisposing them to hear His voice, to know what He is doing and to develop a relationship with Him, preventing temptation beyond what they can handle (I Corinthians 10:13).
Abraham, Ahab, Apposition, Belial, Confusion, Cyrus, Demons, Doubt, Energy, Enthusiasm, Faint heart, Interface, Jehoshaphat, Lying spirit, Mind, Moses, Nebuchadnezzar, Paul, Pharaoh, Pneuma, Predisposition, Ruach, Spirit, Synecdoche, Zerubbabel
We have learned in the previous sermons in this series that "spirit" is a word that gathers a number of elements within its usage. Every usage of "spirit" is of an invisible, immaterial, and internal activating dimension of mind except in the case where a personality is clearly indicated. But even in that one exception, spirit is still invisible unless we are empowered to see it. Spirit activates, impels, motivates, generates, fathers, and manifests, and a whole lot of other things that it activates as well. It does this externally. It is an internal matter, but it manifests itself externally in the form of attitudes and conduct when it is unleashed and given free reign. In other words it can be masked, if we want to, or it can be resisted, if we want to.
We also learned that the power of one being's spirit, whether it be God, man, or demon, has the power to influence another's, so it is possible to pass spirit from one to another almost in the manner of a contagious disease. A simple illustration of this is the use of cheerleaders at sporting events. I might add to that, marching bands as well—the concept there being that the energy, the enthusiasm, the determination of the cheerleaders and the music will be passed on to the spectators who are interested for one side or the other, and that in turn is communicated to the players to fill them with whatever it takes to win the contest. I know that you have all either participated in those things at sometime in the past and you are aware of it. Whether or not it has any influence on you to see cheerleaders and be caught up in the mass of manifestation of that spirit is up to us.
Turn with me to Deuteronomy 20 because I want to show us an example here where this principle plays a role.
Deuteronomy 20:1-8 When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots, and a people more than you, be not afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when you are come near unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people. [Does it not seem in a way a little bit strange to send the priest out before the army?] And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, you approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be you terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is he that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies to save you. And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that has built a new house, and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. [We are beginning to see categories of people who were being excused from the war as an objector.] And what man is he that has planted a vineyard, and has not yet eaten of it? Let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that has betrothed a wife, and has not taken her? Let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her. And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.
Just so that we get God's point, He mentions "the faint heart," "those who are afraid and terrified," and "those given to panic." Every one of them is an invisible internal force, power, that impels the conduct within the warfare. Each one of those is a spirit driven from within. Each one of those is debilitating to the soldier himself, and each one of them can be communicated to others and seriously damage the morale or the spirit of fellow soldiers. One of the major battle strategies has been to kill the king or the general who is in charge of the army. Why? Because soldiers found out that an entire army's spirit can be broken. Their will to fight dissipates when their leader is smitten. That verse that we are so familiar with, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered," is part of that same principle. It is just another form of it. The leader is gone, the morale of the people is broken, and they say, "What's the use?"
The ability to communicate this activating dimension of love is very important in regard to religion, because we saw last week from Ephesians 2:2, that Paul used the word pneuma (translated from the Greek as "spirit") as an impersonal, impelling, and compelling force motivating us to sin. It was one of the three things that he mentioned. Satan destroyed Adam and Eve's faith in God. That faith is a spiritual quality, and he did it by inciting the spirit of jealousy in them, and they were moved to sin through a combination of his lies, doubts of God's trustworthiness, and their desire to be knowledgeable and wise. Each of them, an internal spirit in the way the Bible uses the word, became infected by his foul spirit instead, which is basically one of rebellion against God.
The spirit of Ephesians 2:2 has its source in Satan. It is the essence of Satan's destructive murderous, covetous, accusative, irresponsible, and deceitful mind that is set on destroying God's plan by dominating and enslaving men's minds to him and his way. He has been very effective in doing that. He has perpetuated the original infection both personally, and also with the unwitting cooperation of all of mankind, as well as the demons that are subject to him in his kingdom. We help to perpetuate that spirit by conducting our lives according to it. (That is why Paul mentioned it in Ephesians 2:2.) Thus Satan has become mankind's spiritual father, as Jesus so clearly stated in John 8.
John 8:37-38 I know that you are Abraham's seed; but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. [Hang onto that because it is going to become increasingly important as we go through this sermon.] I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do that which you have seen with your father.
Obviously Jesus considered Himself to have a different father from what they had, that Jesus was a child of Abraham as well as they. Well, they picked up on this.
John 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said unto them, If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham.
Do you understand how Jesus is using the word "father" or "children"? He is using the word "father" or "children" in a very well-accepted biblical spiritual way—that is, a son, or let us say a daughter can be considered the child of another if they are showing the nature and works of one another. Thus a "son of Belial" showed the characteristics of Belial, meaning confusion; or a "child of Belial" showed the characteristics of Belial, which is confusion.
John 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said unto them, If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham.
"You would conduct your life the way Abraham did. You would manifest life in the same way that Abraham did. He was the Friend of God." Were these people the friend of God? They were trying to kill God in the flesh!
John 8:40-43 But now you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. [There is Jesus' answer to them as to whether or not they were children of Abraham.] You do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. [So they were accusing Jesus of being a child of sin.] Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do you not understand my speech [or my words]? Even because you cannot hear my word.
This is the answer. "Even because you cannot hear my word." They did not get it. They heard the sound, but it did not register on their ears in a way that would produce spiritual conversion. It would not change the conduct of their lives. What was it that was causing this rejection? They were physically the children of Abraham. There is no doubt about that. Well, I will tell you the answer. They did not have a spirit, a willingness to accept it. We will see that more as we go along.
John 8:43-47 Why do you not understand my speech? Even because you cannot hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own [resources, his own nature]. For he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, you believe me not. Which of you convinces [or convicts] me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me? He that is of God hears God's words.
The fact that these people were not hearing God's Word was proof that they were not of God. That is all Jesus needed to have the proof that these people were not of God. He did not need any action. All He needed was to know that they were rejecting the truth of God, because someone who is of God is predisposed to accept it, if he will.
John 8:47 He that is of God hears God's words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God.
What is this spirit that I mentioned which so greatly hinders mankind from hearing God, that spirit that Paul mentioned in Ephesians 2:2, but has its source in Satan? It is this spirit and it tells us not to listen, even though we literally hear. It is this spirit which manifests itself through our disobedience and hard-headedness, giving us the characteristics of our spiritual father, before conversion I hope.
Turn with me to another of John's writing. What we are going to see here is that John is going to give us a test of our behavior so that we can tell whether or not we are of God.
I John 4:4-6 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them. [Who is "them"? They are the false apostles, the false teachers, the wolves that were among them.] Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world. [Who is "they"? "They" of course are the false teachers.] Therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
I want you to notice that each one of those verses begins with a different pronoun. In verse 4 the pronoun "you" is the converted people to whom John was writing. In verse 5, "they," are the unconverted that were among them, and most specifically those who were trying to teach them to follow a different way. In verse 6, "we"—and this time it is not converted Christians; more specifically it is the apostles, and by extension the ministry. How do I know that? Because he mentions "He that knows God hears us." He is speaking of those who were speaking to the congregation the true Word of God, and most specifically the apostles. If you want further proof of that, all you have to do is go back to chapter 1, verse 1, and that is the way John begins the epistle. He said, "Listen to us [meaning the apostles]. We are the ones who fellowshipped with Jesus, handled Him, heard Him speak. We are the ones who have the true message." This is a very important principle to understand, and having read John 8, we can understand where John got what he wrote here in I John 4.
You might recall in John 14 Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as "the spirit of truth," and that "spirit of truth" would guide God's children into all truth. Now this verse is saying that those who are of God, those who have God's Spirit and believe God, will recognize God's truth. In a general sense, what they would recognize would be the apostles' message, and more specifically the sense or the spirit of John's message to those to whom he was writing in this epistle, and if they were of God and they had God's Spirit, they will move in their lives. They will be motivated by its impelling power.
Now nobody likes to admit that they reject truth, but everybody does it. I have done it. I have done it since I have been in the church, because that spirit from the world is still in me, and it will rear its ugly head and put it up there almost any time. It has to be kept in check. It has not tricked me too many times, or I do not think that I would be here in front of you speaking to you like this. But anybody is capable of being deceived, but God in His mercy is always with us and He helps us to recover.
We are going to turn now to John 10. We are going to continue to follow this out a little bit further. Always remember what I am giving here is in the context of "spirit." "Spirit" is impelling, compelling, motivating, activating, (shall I call it) power.
John 10:4 And when he puts forth his own sheep, he [the shepherd] goes before them and the sheep follow him: [Why?] for they know his voice.
"They get His words," is what He means. And because they share the same spirit with the Shepherd Jesus Christ, shall we carry it one step forward and say, "to the Shepherd Jesus Christ's sub-shepherd, a true minister of God, representative of Christ"? The true sheep will recognize it because they are predisposed, and they will follow, for they know His voice.
John 10:5 And a stranger will they not follow.
We might get confused for a little while, and if we are following a false shepherd, God in His mercy will yank us back, and we will get back on the track again, because He does not want to lose us, and He is a merciful Father, and He will do that. It might not be easy to get back on the track though, and there might be some pitfalls on the way back, but God will get us there.
John 10:6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
This is a reference back to the previous chapter, for it ended like this: Jesus said unto them [the Pharisees of verse 40], If you were blind, you should have no sin; but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains (John 9:41).
It was those people who did not understand. They could not get what He was saying. Now this thing of "hearing the voice" is important because it identifies those who really are of God. Now turn with me to a very interesting verse. I think I have read this before, in Zephaniah 3. I owe this to my wife because she pointed it out to me a number of months ago. I did not even know it was there, but it fits into this context.
Zephaniah 3:1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!
This is obviously speaking of Jerusalem, but I think that you understand and you believe Jerusalem is a type of the church, and Jerusalem God allowed to be attacked and scattered. Jerusalem, standing for the whole nation of Israel, was then scattered all over the place. That is what the book of Lamentations is about. Verse 2 tells why.
Zephaniah 3:2 She obeyed not the the voice....
What voice? Well, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out. It was the voice of God and His prophets, those who were teaching the truth. They did not accept the truth and they went on in their way, and the result was they were scattered. We need to think about this very seriously, considering the condition of the church scattered all over the place. Did we in some way become polluted and filthy, and God scattered the church because we were not listening to "the voice"? Think about that.
Go with me now to Matthew 16. I said I used the word predisposed a couple of times, that God's children are predisposed to hear, to accept, to follow the voice of truth.
Matthew 16:13-17 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Phillippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. [People were confused.] He said unto them, But whom say you that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, [it did not come naturally] but my Father which is in heaven [revealed it unto you].
The Father predisposed the apostles to see it. Now let us go to John 6:37. Again I want you to think of this in relation to the present condition of the church of God.
John 6:37 All that the Father gives me [Shall I say, "All that the Father predisposes to listen to Me, all that the Father whose minds He has opened"?] shall come to me to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.
This is why I feel that I can confidently say that though God scatters, when the scattering has accomplished its purpose, God will send forth His Spirit and put it into the minds of His people to regather around a man He has raised up, and we can submit to God through this man. You would have never followed Herbert Armstrong, and neither would I, had God not put it into your mind to do so. He predisposed you. Now He scattered us. The only way, brethren, that we can be re-gathered, re-united, is for God to put it in our minds to do so. Since the scattering of the church in 1992, I have had a little bit of experience of this. Reuniting by the edict of some leaders in this church will not work. We cannot force ourselves together, because the spirit to do it is not there, and therefore there is no impelling reason, no compelling reason. It lacks the spiritual power and authority of God. He will regather in His good time. Is United continuing to fall apart? It is. We have not learned our lesson yet. Far too many of us are thick and hanging on to ideas, behaviors that need to be repented of.
Even as this spirit of Ephesians 2:2 is the essence of Satan's mind, so the Holy Spirit is the essence of God's mind, and God's Spirit and its powers are infinitely greater than Satan's. That is why John said in I John 4, "He that is in you is greater than he that is in them." Even though some of God's children may be going backwards, the spirit that is in them, if they truly are God's children, is going to be used to bring them back, but it might be mighty painful before their resistance to God's appeals is broken. In addition to God being more powerful, His Spirit is holy, meaning that it is transcendentally pure in all of its motivations. Added to that, it is equipped with exceedingly more wisdom and knowledge. And, it is moral in its character. So there are three great powers that are passed onto man by that spirit. Those things have come forth from the mind of God.
Everybody wants to be a success in life, but very few people are afforded the kind of true success, because God has not chosen yet to open their minds. They do not even know what true success is, let alone have the will and the power to accomplish it. Some of the most important pieces of knowledge that a person needs are simple things.
First of all they have to know, and know that they know, that "God is," in order that there might be a foundation upon which to build. The second thing they need to know is what God is doing so that they can have the vision of a direction in which to take their life in order to get in harmony with God. The third one is just as important as the others, and that is that we have to know God through a personal relationship, thus having access to all the ancillary knowledge and spiritual powers flowing from that awesome mind.
How can these things be communicated from God to man? The answer in simple form is, by God's Spirit which He sends forth to reveal Himself, begin a personal relationship, and complete the second part of His creation of those that He has invited. In John 6:44, a scripture that we are so familiar with, it says, "No man can come to Me except the Father which has sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day." I will tell you what hope there is in that for us! This immediately follows seven verses after Jesus said that He will not lose anybody that the Father sends to Him. He will not turn them away.
We see God's sheep scattered all over the place. God knows where they are. They are scattered out there because it is His will that they be scattered, just as assuredly it was His will that Israel be scattered. The church is scattered because God was not pleased with us, and there are things that we need to learn if we are ever going to be in His Kingdom. If we are ever going to be loyal and trustworthy, these things have to be worked out of us, and He needs to know whether we can be trusted. We can be trusted if we trust Him. We will be loyal.
As I mentioned, sometimes His calling can be dramatic like it was with the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. It was not only dramatic, but I am sure that it was embarrassing and humbling to Paul, with his massive ego that must have flowed from his tremendous intelligence and his knowledge of the Bible, and his righteous indignation of what this church was doing to the Jews. Well, I will tell you this for him, when he was converted, he learned quickly. But I think it was because he was so humbled, and that helped mightily
Or it might be that His calling might be a slow, painful, humbling process, forty years' worth at least that Moses had to go through. You will not be able to tell from the story, but he felt that he was the man, even before they left Egypt, who was going to rescue them. God took forty more years to make a shepherd out of him. God did a good job. Perhaps, next to Christ, there was no greater shepherd who ever lived.
Then it can be so seemingly commonplace, uneventful as growing up in the church, because I Corinthians 7 says that our children are already sanctified because we are God's children. However it comes, God is directly and personally interfacing with us to reveal or disclose Himself as Paul said, "by His Spirit" to give us knowledge of salvation which is true success. What we are going to look at is the mechanism for this. We are going to begin with Ezra 1. We could use the last verse of II Chronicles 29, because it says exactly the same thing. It is good to have things like that because we know then where the book of Ezra fits.
Ezra 1:1-4 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia. [The Lord stirred up the spirit "in the man." Not the holy spirit, but the spirit that was in man.] That he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remains in any place where he sojourns, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
I think God is superintending, managing events on this earth, and this is how He does it. When He wants something done through a man, He interfaces with him. Without the person being aware of it, God can put thoughts into the person's mind to do what God wants him to do. Now the event that is related to here is the seventy years prophecy of Jeremiah. This verse does not tell us what political, military, social, or economic events God may have created in order to get Cyrus to think of the possibility and finally choose to issue this edict. I do not believe for one second that Cyrus thought of this right out of the blue. Nations act in their national interest. Somehow or another Cyrus came to the conclusion that it was in the national interest of Medo-Persia to get rid of a part of the Jews, and he gave them that opportunity, and to restore the temple that was in Jerusalem. Look up history on this subject and you will find that this particular occasion here was not unique. Cyrus did this for others that the Medo-Persians had conquered. He felt that it was in the national interest to do that. However it occurred, God did it without ever taking away Cyrus' free moral agency. Modern translations translate that verse, that phrase where it says "stirred up the spirit of Cyrus," and they will say "that God moved Cyrus' heart." Hold that combination, "heart/spirit."
Now let us go to Jeremiah 51. This is just a broad application of the same principle.
Jeremiah 51:11 Make bright the arrows. [That means, "Polish them up. Get them ready for war."] Gather the shields: the LORD has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.
God stirred up the spirit of quite a number of people to set the Medo-Persians at war against Babylon to destroy it, to take away its authority. It is just another example of this same principle. God is Sovereign in His creation. He has the last word, and probably almost in every case He had the first word as well, but He does things on His own initiative, because He knows the exact direction that He is heading for and He gives nations a great deal of latitude within that purpose that He is working out. But there are times that He needs to tweak what is going on to get things moving back in the direction that He wants them to go in, and when He wants that to occur, He stirs up the spirit of the man. He interfaces with that person, and that person may not even know it. I can say that because the history books say that Cyrus said the same words about Marduk that he said about the God of heaven. That is recorded. Though Cyrus was not converted, he probably did not even know that God was stirring up his spirit to do this.
Let us look at a couple more positive ones in Haggai 1:14. There again this is kind of interesting because it involves the rebuilding of the temple after a long period of disuse.
Haggai 1:14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.
We will also look at this from another angle. Let us go back to II Chronicles 18. The occasion here is a meeting that took place between Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and Ahab, king of Israel. They were seeking an alliance between the two of them. Jehoshaphat probably never should have gotten involved in this, but there he was, and he probably thought it was in the national interest of the Jews to get some help from their brethren up there in Samaria, but it really was not very wise to do that, and yet there was enough skepticism there in Jehoshaphat, and he wanted a little bit more proof that this was God's will than Ahab was willing to give him, or that he was able to see on the surface.
II Chronicles 18:18-22 Again he [Micaiah, the prophet of God] said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. Then there came out a spirit and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith [how]? And he [the spirit] said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, You shall entice him, and you shall also prevail: go out, and do even so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets, and the LORD has spoken evil against you.
These verses that I have given you, especially the ones in Haggai and II Chronicles 18, show that God or an evil demon can interface with us. They interface with our spirit to move us to be in a certain attitude, or to conduct ourselves in a certain direction. That could be a little bit discouraging because it kind of puts us in the middle between two very powerful forces. However, even though these forces are invisible and have power to persuade us to go in certain directions, we are not without resources. Now we are getting into the area in which much character might be able to be built. The resources that we have are simple. They are not complicated. If we have the Spirit of God, they can be discerned. What we have to do is choose and yield. Sometimes that is not so easy because that foul spirit of Satan sometimes rises up pretty strongly within us.
James 1 is interesting in this regard because he gives us this principle.
James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man.
God never tempts. We can be tempted though. That is very clearly seen. Let us add something to this, another reinforcing scripture that I know that you are aware of.
I Corinthians 10:13 There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
I said that we are not without resource. Resource number 1 is that God never plays dirty. God is holy. Everything He does is fair. It is just, it is pure, it is right, it is done in love. He does not tempt people to sin. If you feel as though you are caught between conflicting pressures, impulses, and one of them is drawing you toward the edge toward sin, you know that is not from God. Go the other way! That is not hard to figure out. That is why John said what he did there in 1st John 4. The spirit that is in us gives us the power to recognize truth, so we follow truth. Not only that, if a trial comes upon us that might draw us into sin, or a a trial that came upon us not necessarily because of anything that we did or anything that is wrong with us, but it may be something that came upon us out of this world. It may have been put on us by Satan. God promises flat out He will never allow us to be tempted above what we are able, but that He always gives us a way of escape. We are not without resources. We can recognize truth, and the trials that we fall into can be overcome, and it will be overcome with His help. Demons entice action and attitudes that will take us into sin.
Let us go back to the book of Exodus. Remember, all this is within the context of spirit. We will get the sense of the context in verse 4.
Exodus 35:4-5 And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take you from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD: gold, and silver, and brass.
Exodus 35:21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.
The context is the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Our subject here has to do with spirit. Spirit is what impels and motivates. Now let us understand the structure of verse 21. The second phrase, "and every one whom his spirit made willing" is synonymous with the first phrase, "they came, every one whose heart stirred him up." It is a Hebraic grammatical form used to clarify and reinforce the first phrase. The human heart, the blood-pumping muscle, is invisible, but it is the activating and animating source of physical life. "The life is in the blood." Fellow Hebrews knew that, and so they used heart in a way that has to do with spirit. Last week I used the term apposition, and apposition means along side of, parallel with, synonymous with. The second phrase is in apposition to the first. The Hebrews therefore, in their communication in speaking and writing, used the heart to symbolize the seat of the intellect, the emotional and spiritual life as well. It was also to them not only the animating part of physical life, but also the invisible energizer and motivator of life and activity in the areas of intellect, emotional, and spiritual life. They simply made the connection between the physical heart and its energizing physical life, and spirit, which energizes intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life. So in this verse the two of them, heart and spirit, are brought together as though they are one involved in stirring, exciting, or motivating these people into action to build the tabernacle. I could go one step further, and that is to say that spirit was exciting, inclining the mind to make it willing to choose to give of themselves.
Let us carry this a little bit further because it really gets interesting. Please go back to the book of Genesis. I said it gets interesting in clarifying the way the Bible uses spirit, for there is no trinity. This is in the context of Pharaoh's dreams.
Genesis 41:8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
What would we say today about the same circumstance? If you had a dream in the middle of the night that disturbed you, you probably would not say, "My spirit was troubled." You would say something like, "My mind was troubled." Or you might say, "My mind was racing all night long." We are beginning to pull another term here, heart, spirit, mind. These are linked in the Bible. Though each one of them has fundamental differences, yet they are all essential to the well-being of human life, to its success.
Let us go to Daniel 2:3. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream.
Daniel 2:3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
Daniel 4:5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, [We are going to pull another word in here that relates to these other three.] and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
Daniel 4:19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.
Even the good guys have troubled thoughts.
What do we have here? Spirit, heart, mind, thoughts—all of them clearly within the context and used interchangeably. The unspoken sense in each case is an invisible, internal, and in these couple of last ones, in this case, disturbing energy.
Let us go again to the book of Genesis. This one is really interesting to me. The context is Isaac and Rebekah's thoughts regarding Esau's wives.
Genesis 26:35 Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.
Do you know what that word mind is in Hebrew? It is ruach (spirit). It is spirit inciting, motivating grief because of the actions of their son.
I will probably throw a curve at you with this one. Jesus is the One speaking.
Mark 2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit [Thoughts put together of some of these things that preceded this.] that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason you these things in your hearts?
Heart, spirit, mind, thoughts—all having the same sense to them, something internal, invisible, motivating. The broadest one of them all is spirit, because it can be used for any one of them, but if the writer wanted to say something a little bit more specific, he used one that was more specific. This one in Mark 2, the word spirit here is pneuma, the Greek word for spirit.
What is the sense of what the verse is saying? What we have here is a figure of speech called synecdoche that means a part, or the whole. The part was spirit. What was the whole? It was Jesus Himself. I told you I would throw you a curve, because here spirit represents the whole man, and He was just as human as we are. But where would He in reality hold this concept, where would it be thought out, where would He discern? In His mind, just like you and I would.
The sermon takes just a little bit of a turn here and gets back to the fact that spirit can be communicated to others, and it is used in the Bible in quite a number of senses.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Here we have another place where we have an apposition. Spirit represents heart. The two of them together can be easily understood to mean mind or nature. "Create a clean heart, a clean nature, a holy nature in me."
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit [one that has been humbled] and a contrite heart [spirit], O God, you will not despise.
A broken spirit and a contrite heart are one and the same thing, but just so that we understand, the second is added for emphasis. The heart is internal. The heart is the mind. Spirit represents both of them, internal, invisible, but motivating and powerful in terms of manifesting conduct that is externally observable.