Category Archives: Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit and Inspiration

Scripture declares it is inspired.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, ESV)

Here, in the English Standard Version (ESV), translators have chosen to interpret the word “inspired,” which is found in older translations, as “breathed out.” This is an appropriate decision as it better reflects the meaning of the word inspired. Today, inspiration is commonly credited for exemplary works of art or for stunning landscapes. Originally however, to be inspired meant to be given divine truth for transmission to mankind. In other words, the Bible writers were to record the words breathed out by God.

We offer the following human definition of Biblical inspiration which might help:

“Biblical inspiration is the transmission of truth from God, to man, through man and for man.”

The words of the Bible are not like the words of any other literature. They are the very thoughts of God as revealed to mankind. Inasmuch as the words of God are truth (John 17:17) we should seek them for the benefit they bring. We should also handle carefully the truth (2 Timothy 2:15) like we would a sharp weapon (Hebrews 4:12, Revelation 1:16, Revelation 2:12).

Inspiration provides for man the only truth needed for his eternal existence. It is complete (Jude 3) and allows a man to become complete before God. The words of the Bible are verified through great signs and wonders performed by God’s approved messengers. Since there are no true miracles occurring today, there is no confirmation of any supposed new or fresh word from God. We now have the truth and it is able to make us complete and to prepare us for every good work.

The Holy Spirit is integral in the work of inspiration. Peter defends the truthfulness of the apostolic message and the inspired word given through the work of the Holy Spirit.

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21)

Here, the unique nature of prophecy, which is a part of Scripture, is affirmed as being beyond mortal abilities. Instead the source of that inspiration is the Holy Spirit. This comports well with Jesus own promise to the apostles to send the Spirit who would then “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Make note that the passage speaks of “all the truth,” not some of it or a portion of it, but all the truth.

The Divine Workman has provided us every scintilla of truth needed for our eternal journey. There is nothing more. Let us give glory to the Spirit who has supplied our need so richly.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

3 Rules for Holy Spirit Studies

open bible empty pewsMany people study the Holy Spirit. This divine member of the Godhead is often seen as a mysterious and unknowable Bible character. Sometimes, what people think they know about the Spirit is actually a blending of a little Bible and a whole lot of misinformation from wealth-seeking television preachers and book-selling authors who know that by carefully revealing new and fresh knowledge of the Spirit they can sell more and more books. Others have simply bought into errant teaching that is based on shallow studies and a lack of in-depth studies.

But the Holy Spirit (hagio pneumatos) can be accurately known. He is revealed in Scripture and the truth of his existence and work is found in Scripture. Although the Spirit is not as well described as the Father and the Son, he is, nonetheless, knowable. As such, the Spirit is an appropriate subject for study. As you approach your studies please consider the following 3 reminders in your work.

1. Everything we know about the Holy Spirit, we know from the Bible.

God’s word is true and has been fully delivered (John 17:17; Jude 3). Revelation is no longer occurring and that which was given was confirmed by great miracles. Inasmuch as confirming miracles no longer are seen we must depend upon the Scriptures as the only true source of information on the Holy Spirit.

The Bible student must use caution when approaching this subject as some rely upon odd and uncommon feelings of knowledge and even ecstasy for their information. As a man once told me, “I know the Spirit is real because I felt him moving during church.” In fact, feelings are probably the least reliable way to know anything. How would you feel if a doctor told you to set your affairs in order because you were soon to die? When you asked him why and how he knows he might only reply that he has no confirming tests, only a feeling of your impending death. You would ignore such nonsense.

If you want to know about the Holy Spirit, stick to what God has revealed and confirmed about him in Scripture.

2. We do not, and will not, know everything about the Spirit.

It is natural to be curious. No advance in any field as come without someone being curious. It is certainly normal and good for a Christian to have questions about the Holy Spirit and His work. Such curiosity drives the student to a deeper understanding.

But it is true that we will never know everything about the Spirit, at least, not in this life.

Paul salutes his readers in Ephesians 1:3 by telling them that God has given unto them every spiritual blessing. Just prior to his departure Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would come and guide them into “all truth” (John 16:13). Yet, we understand that we are guided into all the truth necessary for us. Many things remain hidden and belong only to God (Deuteronomy 29:29; Acts 1:7; Romans 11:33).

Sometimes, a Bible student will become frustrated when he cannot discover all that he wants to know about the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, in that frustration, the student unwittingly makes assumptions he ought not. He then shares those new “understandings” and confuses many.

Let us pursue what we can know and leave the rest behind God’s great curtain.

3. We have salvation.

While many questions will remain about the Spirit there is no lack of teaching on mankind’s sin and his desperate need for a savior. From Genesis until Revelation there is a single line of teaching on God’s great love for his Creation. All of the words of the Bible swirl around the Redeemer. Either he is needed, he is promised, he has come, he has saved or he is returning but the Scriptures abound with knowable teachings on Jesus.

It is not that we should avoid studying the Spirit. We should seek to know all we can but let us never lose sight of the reason for the Spirit’s work. He works to glorify Christ (John 15:26; John 16:14) and to show Christ to a lost Creation.

Aren’t you thankful for God’s sweet plan of redemption which was conceived by the Father, completed by the Christ and revealed by the Spirit?


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.


Who is Simon Magus?

Simon Magus was a magician working among the people of Samaria. We meet Simon in Acts 8 as one of the converts to Jesus through the preaching of Stephan. We usually speak of Simon the sorcerer or Simon the magician. “Magus” means magician and is commonly added to his name to differentiate him from others named Simon.In any case, there are some important lessons from Simon’s brief New Testament appearance.

Simon Magus Background

We know nothing Biblically about his background except that he lived in Samaria. He was obviously an accomplished trickster who profited from his works of magic or sorcery. He claimed notoriety because of his power and was thought to draw his power from God. Simon made no attempt to prevent their accolades and enjoyed his position of prestige among the people (Acts 8:9-11).

Simon was in Samaria when Philip began preaching Jesus there. Samaria was one of the places the new Christians fled after the persecution began in Jerusalem. The crowds in Samaria listened carefully to the preaching of Philip, took note of the confirming miracles and responded in great numbers.

Philip was one of the deacons appointed in Acts 6 and was full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3, 5). As part of his commission the apostles in Jerusalem “laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:6) and empowered him with the ability to work miracles. This ability confirmed to the people, including Simon, that Philip’s words were true and from God. The people responded to the “great miracles” (Acts 8:13) and many became believers in Jesus Christ including Simon.

Simon Magus Rebuked

There is nothing in the Bible to question Simon’s initial conversion. Nor is there any indication as to how long it took before the apostles came from Jerusalem. But once the apostles arrived, Simon’s heart fell back into his old ways.

The apostles came from Jerusalem in order to impart the miraculous gifts of the Spirit to the people in Samaria. The reader will observe that Philip, already in Samaria and preaching, could himself perform miracles (Acts 8:5-8, 13). Recall that the apostles had already laid hands on Philip (Acts 6:6). The presence of the apostles in Samaria was to lay hands on the people there who were Christians but did not have the ability to perform miracles.

Simon’s old ways returned. He calculated that if he could buy the ability to lay hands on people and give them the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit he could profit greatly. Notice what the inspired text says,

“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:18-19, emphasis mine).

Simon was sternly rebuked by Peter, confessed his weakness and asked Peter and John to pray for him and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Simon then fades into the crowds of believers and we never hear from him again.((There are non-Biblical legends that persist about Simon and charge him with being the leader of a pagan syncretic group known as the Simonians. However the Bible make no such mention.))

Simon Magus and Miracles

The story of Simon teaches an important lesson regarding miracles. The only people who could perform miracles were the apostles and those to whom the apostles gave that power. No one else could pass along that power. The implications are important.

John was the final apostle to die, likely near the end of the 1st century or around 100 AD. When he died, the ability to pass along miracle-working abilities died with him. Therefore, there was no source left for the power. Those who claim the ability today to perform miracles find themselves in Simon’s camp and not that of the apostles.

We understand, and the apostles and inspired writers confirm, miracles were never intended to be a permanent party of the Christian life (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). Miracles confirmed the new word and new teachings being proclaimed of the risen savior. Once confirmed, the miracles were no longer needed.

Simon certainly teaches us of the need to completely change our lives and root out any vestige of sin. But it also teaches plainly that the ability to perform miracles was linked to living apostles. Let us not be fooled by supposed healers and miracle workers today.


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Baptism of Fire

Many people earnestly seek for the baptism of fire as part of the salvation process. They read the statement of John the baptist who said Jesus would come and baptize with fire and  the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). They trust that this baptism of fire is synonymous with the reception of the Holy Spirit mentioned by Jesus  and by Peter on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38. ((c.f. Acts 2:3)) ((These two “receptions” of the Holy Spirit are not necessarily the same inasmuch as the measure of the Holy Spirit received by the apostles was far greater than that others would receive.)) I think they are terribly mistaken.

Here’s the entire passage:

I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Stopping here we might think that being baptized by fire is a good thing and much to be desired. But we cannot stop. As with all Bible study we must consider the full context of the passage.

In Matthew 3, “fire” is mentioned three times. We find it in Matthew 3:10, Matthew 3:11 and Matthew 3:12. In verses 10 and 12 the reference is undeniably to judgment or punishment. Verse 11, which is the key verse for our particular interest, is not so clear. At least not until you look at the other two verses.

Does it make sense that the middle occurrence of the word means something good when the other two immediately surrounding verses mean something else.

Jesus will judge his people (2 Timothy 4:1) and some will be cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 21:8; c.f. Revelation 20:10). There is far too much linkage between fire and judgment for this passage to mean something desirable.

There is a good study on this subject at I do not endorse everything on the site but his study is especially powerful as he is a pentecostal. Many who hold to the idea of the baptism of fire are pentecostal in their view.

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