Bevin Harward

Does Your Church Have the Holy Spirit?

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Romans 8:9 says that anyone who does not have the Spirit does not belong to Christ. So, according to biblical definitions, to ask if a church has the Holy Spirit is to ask whether or not they’re Christian. Now, I know that people who ask this aren’t necessarily bringing into question the salvation of the congregants within any given church. But, what they are doing is hijacking Biblical language to suit their traditions.

According to the words of God, if someone does not have the Spirit, they are not Christian.

To walk in the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with how ecstatic a church service is. It simply means that we have been set free from our slavery to sin and death.  That we no longer focus on our carnal desires, but desire to live a life that pleases God.

Yours in Christ,
Bevin.

Do You Move in the Spirit?

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It’s been a few years since I left the Charismatic movement. Since doing so it hasn’t been uncommon to be judged as legalistic, religious or a Pharisee who pays too much attention to head knowledge at the expense of being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. That is, I’m trusting too much in the natural and resisting the spiritual. What’s interesting, however, is this can be flipped on its head.

When in the Charismatic movement I would be taught to seek healings, visions, dreams and hunger for greater intimacy with God through ecstatic worship concerts. Success in achieving such intimacy would be gauged by how I felt. However, I now learn to trust in the written word of God despite my feelings. To trust in what He has done and continues to do regardless of emotion. So, with this in mind, who’s truly depending on the natural, and who’s depending on the spiritual? Are you trusting in what you experience or what God has spoken?

Feelings are good. They are, in the words of Greg Koukl, “What makes life delicious”. But, to trust in them and use them as a gauge for the working out of one’s walk with God is a certain recipe for confusion and spiritual derailment. To be truly spiritual we must know the truth of what God has actually revealed to us in His written word.

Blessings,
Bevin

Does the Gospel You Believe Require a Crucified and Risen Saviour?

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Easter is a good time to reflect and reset our motives in line with the truth of the Gospel. So, be patient with me and hear my plea in saying that the Gospel is not living a pleasant and blessed life.  It is not attracting or declaring favour over circumstances, having a better job or pay increase.  It is not speaking over a $100 note in the eager expectation to get rich, having extra anointing and gifts nor receiving a unique calling.  It is not releasing apostolic or prophetic authority over the earth.  It is not being made for greatness or finding our purpose.  It is not the removal of a headache, backache, having both legs being the same length or any other kind of physical healing.  Nor is it experiencing emotional worship and growing deeper in our spiritual pursuits.   It is not working to gain higher intimacy with God.  It is not having visions and heavenly downloads while growing large decked out churches with refined systems and procedures.  It is not the infiltration and commandeering of the marketplace.  It is not the annihilation of world hunger and the ushering in of global peace.  Nor is it the march for sexual and racial equality.  It is not being a prime exegete or masterful theologian.  Nor is it being a skilled apologist who’s well read in textual criticism nor any ability to cut another down in a memory verse sword fight.

The truth is, I do not need a crucified and risen saviour to accomplish any of the above. But to stand before a holy and righteous God – the creator of all things, I need …that which is of first importance: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Jesus Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification (Romans 4:25). The holy and righteous creator of all things will one day come to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). Yet the perfect love of God has cast out all fear of judgement (1 John 4:18) for those of us covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). And if we’re ever tempted to change or add to this good news then all we’ve done is proven that we have not come to understand the gospel and the weight of what Christ has accomplished.

Please, I ask that if you have in any way changed or added to the simplicity of the gospel, that you repent and strive to align yourself with the truth of God’s word.

May we all find rest in the complete and sufficient work of Christ this Easter.

To God be the Glory – Bevin.

Because of What God Did

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I’ve been convicted in recent times as to how to answer the question “Why are you a Christian?” It’s common to hear answers in which people appeal to their decisions, praying a prayer, being in a Christian home or the fact that they’re baptised.

With that in mind let us look at Judges Chapter two. Long story longer, the nation of Israel had entered into a land which had been promised several generations beforehand to the Patriarch (someone God used to establish the nation of Israel) Abraham. But things took a turn for the worse (again) when Israel turned from God, forgot what He had done for them (Judges 2:10; Psalm 106:34-46) and served the false god’s of the Canaanites (Judges 2:11-13). In His anger (yes, God gets angry) “…he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies so that they could no longer withstand them … and they were in great distress (Judges 2:14-15 – Emphasis added).

Here is where I want to focus. The nation of Israel was rebelling against God and was in great distress. What happens next is fascinating and has the heart of the Gospel plastered all over it. Judges 2:16: “Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them.” (Emphasis added). God did this because “[He] was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.” (Judges 2:18). Let’s note that Israel did not apply any formula or ritual in order for God to act. They didn’t give their hearts to God or pray a simple prayer.  They had not even yet repented!  God was merely moved to pity and out of his grace he saved them. The only thing Israel contributed was their sinful rebellion that made their salvation necessary.

It’s the same with us. Look at Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you were dead in the trespasses of your sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedienceamong whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying our the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Emphasis added). So, just as Israel was actively rebelling against God and unable to save themselves, so were we. We were disobedient, dead to God, actively seeking out our sinful desires. This kind of person cannot choose God – they don’t want to choose God. Let’s read on, “BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…” (Ephesians 2:4-5 – Emphasis added). And as to drive the point home Paul writes again three verses later, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Just as God unexpectedly and without invitation saved Israel from their desired enslavement he has saved us from our desired enslavement to sin. He saved us. We’re not Christians because we  decided to be by opening our hearts to Jesus, praying a prayer or raising a hand during an alter call. No. We’re Christians because God, in his loving mercy invaded our lives and saved us from our sinful rebellion towards him and made us righteous which led us to repentance. To claim we had any part in being united with Christ is to declare that we fulfilled a requirement or law that God then rewarded. That’s legalism. And nobody likes a Pharisee 😉

So, next time someone asks me why I’m a Christian I think a good answer will be: “Because of what God did”.

Are you Christian? That means you’re a Theologian

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I play guitar and I enjoy it, a lot. In fact, based on what I’ve accomplished I think it’d be fair to say I’m quite good at it. But this doesn’t mean my skills came easy. To get to where I am has required countless hours of dedicated and disciplined practice. It’s the same with my Bible studies. It’s something I enjoy a lot, yet it still requires discipline and conscious dedication.

I say this to dispel a myth that unfortunately creates two categories of Christians. That is one of normal, run of the mill, average Christians. Then there are those who are theologians. It hasn’t been uncommon for me to be talking with a fellow believer about the things of God when they interject with the remark “Oh, but you’re a theologian”. The confusion here is one Christian is essentially telling another Christian: “Oh, but you study all that Christian stuff about God”. By thinking they’re acknowledging something unique, they’re in fact revealing a failure on their part. And this is my point: Christians, by definition, are theologians.

In his book The Forgotten Trinity, James White states: “If you are a Christian, you are a theologian. You have no choice. Theology is simply knowing about God. In fact, since Christians are called to grow in their knowledge of God, part of the very goal of the Christian life is theology. Theology is a normal part of the Christian life—a part that gives rise to everything else.”  Studying theology is pivotal to being a Christian as it is the study of God. A Christian loves God and longs to know more about Him and therefore studies Him making the title ‘Christian’ unavoidably synonymous with ‘Theologian’.

In an attempt to present the heart of the Christian faith the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church saying, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul was laying out a foundational theological conviction that exclaims a desire of pursuit, understanding and a clinging to. This is the practise of theology. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33).

We live in a time where the mysteries of God’s will have been revealed to us, His saints (Ephesians 1:9; Colossians 1:26). We can study the depths of the good news – God’s completed work – which the prophets eagerly searched out (1 Peter 1:10) and longed to see (Matthew 13:17). Even the Angels were kept from knowing this good news that has now been revealed to us (1 Peter 1:12). We not only have the overwhelming blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit guiding us through His all sufficient word. But, we have the works of 2000 years worth of Spirit filled theologians and preachers at our fingertips. The Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the very Savour of our souls who took our punishment while we were still sinners has flung wide the doors calling us to learn more about Him. The invite could not be more appealing.

God Bless you and may you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (1 Peter 3:18)

Bevin

  • Sundays @ 309 Welcome Bay Rd, Tauranga (Welcome Bay School Hall)