Mark 3:28-29: The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

The Biblical Christ Research Institute

What is the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” (3:28-29)? Can it still be committed today, or was it limited to Jesus’ time?

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is, as stated in Mark 3:28-29, to identify the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and by implication the Holy Spirit, as the work of satan.

One interpretive option is that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is general, habitual rejection of the work of God in Jesus Christ (Brooks, NAC-Mark, 76). Specifically, labeling the work of Christ as a demonic work. Another view would be the historical view. This view proposes that Christ had appeared to the Jews in the clearest, revelatory way. In this case, His first advent is an unparalleled time in which His ministry deeds and testimony about Himself was inescapably clear. The Pharisees rejected the incarnate Word, while He walked among them. The last view is…

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On False Teachers

False teachers pervert the gospel.
If anything, this alone damns them (as Galatians 1:6-8 clearly indicates).

I strongly believe that for some of them, their mouths MUST be stopped for the damnable heresies and lying doctrines which they persistently and insistently disperse. So many strange doctrines of devils being conceived in earthly minds and contrived by sensual thoughts, that speak such ridiculous falsehood in intentionally twisting Scriptures through deceptive worldly philosophies and mysticism. I am so pained by the lot of it that I weep in anger sometimes. Said the Preacher: “Lying lips are an abomination to God, but they which deal truthfully are His delight.” (Proverbs 12:22).

These mendacious professors of a counterfeit Christ and false gospel are a real menace to causing true believers to stumble and also to leading many astray (2Peter 3:17). They twist the word and make salvation to seem all about material gain (1 Timothy 6:5) and they lay heavy emphasis on trivial and incidental trifles supposing these things to be what godliness is (1 Timothy 1:4-6; 2Timothy 3:5) whilst de-emphasizing the fundamental truths of the Scriptures pertaining to godliness. And it is becoming so much easier for them to do all this now. Why? 2Timothy 4:2 tells us why and Jeremiah 5:31 also.

Now, I am compelled to write this to you; for those of you who have no desire to be children being tossed and carried about by every wind of doctrine promulgated by these wolves disguised as sheep (and for those of you who already earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to all the saints), I hope to encourage and enjoin you in taking heed to such as these things and dangerous people as every Christian ought.

So here are a  few ways you can handle false teachers/witnesses:
– Identify them by name and warn others of their error (2 Timothy 2:17-18).
– Mark and avoid them (Romans 16:17,18).
– Be on your guard to avoid being carried away by their error (2 Peter 3:17).
– Separate yourself from among them (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
– Reject their vain babblings (2 Timothy 2:16,17).
– Turn away from them (2 Timothy 3:5).
– Reject them after unsuccessful admonitions (Titus 3:10).
– Do not receive them nor bid them God speed (2 John 10-11).
– Expose their evil deeds (Ephesians 5:11)
– Pray that God may stop their mouths (Titus 1:11) and grant those ensnared in their falsehoods, repentance unto the acknowledging of God’s truth (2 Timothy 2:25)
– Test the veracity of every man’s teaching using Scripture as your supreme authority. (Acts 17:11)
– Test the spirits because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

I don’t suppose that everyone who reads this will be bold and courageous enough as enjoined in all the above, maybe some will be thoroughly exasperated with me on this particular matter/issue as it pertains to the church, but I implore you to be steadfast in the faith and humbly trust the Lord to look beyond “me” and and at least start somewhere. It is not a call to be contentious but to contend for the purity and integrity of the word of the Lord. It is a call to be conscientious in exercising biblical discernment and in delighting in the law of the Lord.

A dear friend said these words to me years ago: “Being a Christian requires constant watching. Tripping over so-called innocent “misrepresentations” of truth is totally unacceptable to God! He has gone to great lengths to teach us of Himself and did not leave it to men. We have no excuse if we allow ourselves to be deceived!”.

God’s truth is always under attack.

May we all become more like the apostles who were strong, bold, fearless, dogmatic, unaccommodating of error, courageous, intolerant of sin, inflexible concerning the Gospel, controversial, willing to die for the truth and fully devoted to Christ. During these times of great deception the Body of Christ must respond with a theological, biblical worldview that defends the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We must protect the purity of His Gospel for the sake of His elect.
And all this ought be done in true Christian charity!

Amen.

Musings from a Beloved Hymn

“O teach me what it meaneth,
That Cross uplifted high,
With one the Man of sorrows, Condemned to bleed and die!
O teach me what it cost Thee To make a sinner whole;
And teach me, Saviour teach me, The value of a soul!
Lucy Ann Bennett

What is the value of a man’s soul? Is there some intrinsic quality that makes his soul valuable? Ah! Yes, he was created in the image and likeness of God. But is that sufficient to make his soul of any value? Is man not a fallen creature, who is dead in sins and trespasses; a child of wrath and son of disobedience, whose throat is an open sepulchre? What possible value could such a soul have? I venture to say NONE! The value lies not in man but the One who gave Himself for him. The price that was paid for the redemption of man is not proof of his worth but proof of the astounding magnificence of God’s great grace and mercy in redeeming vile sinners and making them joint heirs with Christ! There aren’t words lofty and weighty enough to describe it.

This hymn writer I believe, sought to know the depth of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge in the display of his grace. He who declares that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, has redeemed her from His wrath to come, and so she must sing. And I must as well.

The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, said upon the restoration of his senses that ‘all inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing.’ Those are the submissions of a man who by the gracious workings of God, ceased to be a rebel. He once thought himself mighty, but now knows he is but a creature.

Are those your submissions as well? Then there must be a persistent seeking of the One who has saved us with so great a salvation. There must be a never-ending giving of praise to the Saviour who shed his precious blood for the remission of our sins and who made us new creatures. There must be constant contemplations on and admiration of the great truths of Scripture. There must also be love for all the redeemed who make up the church that the Saviour has undertaken to nourish and preserve to the very end. And lastly, there must be a compelling compassion for all those presently sold under sin, who lack any consciousness of their miserable estate. These ones must need be told of the Cross uplifted high, and the Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief who hung on it.

Lord teach us indeed what these things means……

Might the Lord grant that we understand these deep things so often taken for granted, and that in our understanding, we may grow in our knowledge and love for Him. To Him alone be glory now and forever. Amen.

Reflections on Current Events

I have been musing over the recent happenings (particularly the Chibok abduction) in our beloved country, and wondering what my response should be as a Christian. I have asked myself what Apostles Paul and John would have done if they lived in our day? How would they react as servants of Christ and leaders in the church? Would they have joined in the protests and demand that the government do their job?
Well, I don’t know, I do know that their day was as riddled with unjust acts by political leaders and the citizenry as ours is. Indeed, I think we fair far better than they did. I seriously doubt that the citizens of the Roman empire would have thronged to the streets in protest if such an occurence had taken place. So we can be thankful to God for some of the level of freedom that we have today. Whether we have put that freedom to proper use is another discussion entirely.

Back to the issue at hand, it is important that Christians understand clearly how they live their lives before an onlooking world. And the present crisis (there has always and there will always be crisis in this cursed world) affords us the opportunity to publish the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. While the situation is a tragic one, we must be careful not to drop our Biblical worldviews as if such abductions and bombings are novel. The reality of the matter is that the abductors, the abducted, the bombers, the protesters and all at the helm of affairs who continue to harden their hearts against the Gospel will suffer God’s wrath. Those who died in the Nyanya bomb blast are not greater sinners than other Nigerians.

I don’t know the fate of these girls and I confess I try not to think about what they are going through right now. I know the parents of these are in grief beyond what I can imagine, but actually do not know the effect this grief must have had on them. I can only bear their burdens by pleading with the Lord to be merciful and use this to bring those among them who are lost to a knowledge of His Son and His mighty saving work on the cross on behalf of sinners. And for those who are His, O, that they might know that He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. That’s all the hope there is in this world. God may or may not bring the girls back (whatever the government does), but we may be rest assured that His purposes are perfect.

As I end this piece, let me say that I am not telling those who want to protest not to (I personally do not see the point), or that Christians shouldn’t hold the government to account. What I am trying to do is urge Christians in this country to be discerning and not go with the flow because it feels right, but judge all their responses and actions from a Biblical standpoint with an eye to the glory of our great God.

Grace and Peace…

The Vanity of Positive Confession

I have often said that the proof of the Word of Faith camp as a false group is evidenced by the fact that a nation like Nigeria, where many in this camp abound, remains one of the poorest and most corrupt on earth. And the very fact that many continue to argue in favour of this falsehood and give support to its leading proponents, is very proof of its devilish nature.

Perhaps my choice of words is a bit strong and may be perceived as harsh, but those are words I chose carefully to convey my utter dismay at the attitude of many Christian professors in the face of the truth of God’s Word.

Recently, I was in place where someone received the sad news of the death of two kinsmen. This person’s (he happens to be the pastor of a branch of a very popular Charismatic church in Lagos) first reaction was to say, “I cannot take this….. I won’t accept this.” And my first thoughts as I looked in the direction of my wife were “what foolishness!” Just yesterday afternoon I received a call from my wife about the death of a distant relative and the reactions by her other relatives who happen to be professing Christians. One of them is noteworthy and is the reason behind my writing this piece. The particular statement was this “…..we have to keep praying…….we will not accept this. She must live again!”

Now, it is understandable that grief should arise as a result of the loss of someone dear. It is even possible that for a brief period, that unbelief at the loss of such a person will cause hallucination. It is only natural to man that pain follows the loss of someone and this loss may sometimes lead to emotional expressions that a person may not be able to control. But where one boasts against the providential act of God over His creature, such a person exposes a lack of understanding of God’s Word despite his or her belief to the contrary.

This is the exact case of those in the Word of Faith/ Positive Confession/ Name it-Claim it camp. It is the result of a poor understanding of God’s revealed truth and the proper approach to explaining it. The history of this group is long and their damage and reproach to the name of Christ enormous. Their leaders are men who though claim to be servants of Christ, serve mammon. Men whose god is their bellies and who glory in their shame, for they mind earthly things. These are men who think themselves little gods and possessive of a tongue that can speak whatever their vain heart’s desire into existence. Men who pour contempt at the concept of a sovereign God who can do with His creation as He so pleases; for if this were so, they would not be able to decide what they want, when they want it and how they want it. They, along with their followers do not really seek the city whose builder and maker is God, but are more occupied with their best lives now. They love the world and are not pilgrims passing through to a far better place. They preach Christ only for earthly gain.

Two passages of Holy Scriptures record succinctly the truth of God’s sovereignty over His creation. In Job 12:10 we read “in whose (God)* hand is the life of every living thing, and the breadth of all mankind.” The other verse is Acts 17:28 where Paul says to the philosophers at Mars Hill, “for in Him (God)* we live and move and exist….” [*emphasis mine]

These two verses highlight an important truth that all who profess to belong to Christ –indeed every single man on alive— should note, “the God who gives life is the same who takes it. And when he decides to take it, none whosoever, can stay his hand! If this were not so, He would not be God” Men should quit this strange idea that they hand halt death in its tracks by their positive words. Those who do such will do well to acquaint themselves with verses such as 2Peter 3:10-12, to see the description of the world their hearts pander after.  The Son of God did not die that men may “live and not die” but that they would “die to themselves and live for Him who loved them and gave Himself for them that they might gain their live eternally to the glory of the praise of God.” The one who fulfils the latter is the true Christian.

I end by saying there is a right manner to respond to the death of anyone. If the deceased was a child born of God, we may be rest assured that such a one has only just slept and will pass from death to life [1Thess. 4:13-14]. If the deceased on the other hand had no saving faith evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit (even if he professed all his life to have been born from above), we may use that opportunity to contemplate the brevity of life as Job did [Job 14:1-2], and spend our time from that moment seeking first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, and telling those we know about the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Richly Rewarding Reading

It is good to read.

It is good to read good reads.

A proper amount of good reading is indeed a worthwhile and rewarding endeavor, especially for the student of Scripture. And because true wisdom and knowledge are not obtained by the “auto” process of effortlessly clicking on a download button, disciplined and principled reading is the method few find palatable and many others are altogether averse to.
But having said that, I’d like to use this opportunity to encourage those who are earnestly desirous to begin to read good Christian literature and who are experiencing some difficulty in determined, disciplined reading.

We know all too well how easily and quickly we begin to read a good book, get a short way into its pages, only to find ourselves treating it like an abandoned project.

A few simple and helpful reading principles which I’ve learned that have proven very profitable to me over the years are:

– setting a realistic reading plan and deadline to finish a given book (it won’t always be the same for each book; chapter a day/week)
– dedicating a set time (in the day or at night) to read
– simple, dogged, resolve in sticking to the one book I have begun before picking up another

One character trait of being disciplined (as a disciple of Christ) is the consistency that is learned in devotion to Christ. There is a constancy of purposeful commitment in discipleship to Christ Jesus which is cultivated in training oneself in godliness; and instruction, the receiving of marching orders as it were, requires that the student build up the understanding in clear and sharpened thinking. Now, with regards to the one who follows Christ the Lord; understanding His will by the ministry of His Spirit, and the instrumentality of obedient faith in Him working by loving affection for Him, reading what points us centrally to Christ is critical to our learning of Christ.

So in essence, what I am saying is that the “who” we read to please and to know should inform the “why” we read and also shape the “how” we read.

Though we read to sharpen our thinking and also deepen our understanding, in doing all things to His glory, as Christians we ought to read books that direct us to and clearly expound the testimony of Scripture to our minds & hearts, centrally exegeting the Son to us. All this is to help fan the flame of our motivation in the matter of our reading.

I’ve found that each book I read demands a different pace and a different style of reading, but books that I’ve greatly enjoyed (and subsequently read through successfully and beneficially) are the sort which heighten my desire in thirsting & hungering after God and which help me to prayerfully & practically grow in the grace of Christ,  working out my salvation with fear and trembling.

One caution also worth mentioning is related to the tendency to read more books than Scripture.
Spurgeon once counseled,
“It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. . .Drink of the unadulterated milk of the word of God, and not of skimmed milk, or the milk and water of man’s word.”
His words are succinct and need little additional explanation.

It’s also good that we guage ourselves well and not bite off more than we can chew. Simplicity is key. That is exactly how I also began working through books.

The benefit of good sound reading that points us to and anchors us to Scripture as the infallible rule of our faith, is that there are things which are difficult to understand and/or interpret in Scripture which when expounded or exposited in clarity, help us better understand spiritual truths and thus we may be bountifully edified.

It’s painstaking effort, but the rewards are definitely enriching.

Be Mindful of Being Mindful.

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…” — Ephesians 6:14

Have you ever had one of those conversations with a professing Christian when you ask them if they love Jesus and they affirmatively respond but give an answer tantamount to saying “I’ve loved Jesus for years now…..but I don’t know His word/commandment”?

Disconcerting isn’t it? And that is probably mainly due to the disturbing implications of what is actually being said and what it reveals of their working understanding of the first commandment. Ever also hear that “head knowledge” and “heart knowledge” dichotomy too? Where a person basically says that they love God (in their heart) but don’t really know Him or the things of God (in their head). I hear this so much, tacitly and openly admitted by so many who profess Christ, that it is a jarring shock to the mind when it is provoked to think by inquisition to why it isn’t being vigilantly employed to think. I mean how can you love the God whom you do not know? And how can you know the God whom you ought to love with all your mind if your mind is placed off to the side in the matter of knowing God? If the heart affections for God are not proportionately effecting a great desire of the mind for His testimony in His truth, the disconnect is one which cannot long be sustained. It is like having the link between the fuel tank and the engine of a car severed, there is no bypass and Christianity doesn’t run like a hybrid-car.

One issue of critical concern amongst so many professing Christians in Nigeria is the matter of very little or insufficient attention paid to properly studying the word of God. The believer in Christ is called to honor and to love God with all (ὅλος; holos; complete in extent, time, degree, amount; altogether, every whit) their mind. When the Scriptures enjoins the beloved to “gird up the loins of your mind” (1Pet.1:13) and to “study to show yourself approved” (2Tim. 2:15), it is a call for the believer in Christ to diligently apply themselves to careful study of His truth and ready preparedness for immediate obedient action to know His will and to serve the Lord God in whatsoever He calls them to do. Christians are not to be “children in understanding” (1Cor.14:20) and are to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph.5:17), along with many other exhortations to seek after godly wisdom such as we find in Col. 1:9, 2Pet.1:5-7 and 2Pet.3:18

In another place, Paul, writing to the saints in Ephesus says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment…” (Phil.1:9); which speaks to a discerning compassion and intelligent affection conditioned by divine truth opened to the heart and mind by the Spirit of the Lord. Truth and love intertwined in healthy vitality and made evident in sound doctrine and sound practice.

This is not a call to put aside the mind in irrational and incoherent mystical deduction that selectively picks and pecks at certain Scriptures excised from their biblical context and applied with a shallow and subjectively personal (mis)interpretation. This is a call to fastidiousness of the mind in honoring God by being firmly established in the truth of His word (Eph. 6:14).

There is no true understanding of the word of Christ apart from the illumination of the Spirit, who breathed out the word of truth; and so the enjoinment is — you’ve got to exert your mental faculties some.

I say this with sympathetic solemnity and ardent care, but the price which one pays for neglectful laziness and/or ignorant refusal to mindfully search the Scriptures and to think about the great nourishing truths of Christian doctrine is either continued unbelief or a crippled Christian experience.

And more often than not, too many impoverished souls are found pursuing the false affirmations of vain religious platitudes in headless knowledge and truly heartless understanding.

Chris Okogwu,
your fellow servant and witness of Christ.

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Scripture references:
1 Peter 1:13 — “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
2Timothy 2:15 — “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
1Corinthians 14:20 — “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
Ephesians 5:17 — “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Colossians 1:9 — “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…”
2Peter 1:5-7 — “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”
Philippians 1:9-11 — “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”