New Favorite Song…

I’m totally in love with this song by Elevation Worship called, Fullness. The reasons are plentiful: it’s packed with Scripture, it speaks to the day of Pentecost (when the church was born) in Acts 2, it references all of the prophetic foreshadowing to the move of God coming through the Holy Spirit, it’s full of modern significance as it’s chorus and bridge consistently cry out “Spirit come!” as if inviting God’s power and presence into our lives and communities in the same way today, and it speaks of longing for our King’s return.

My favorite version of this song is their acoustic set which, though I can’t find it on iTunes, is available via youtube (linked below).

If you’re interested in doing a devotion over this passage, here’s my thoughts below on the song – and more importantly, the Scripture it references…

The Bible tells us in Acts 1 & 2 that after Jesus had risen from the dead and spent 40 days with His followers that He told them, “you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Acts 2 tells us the story of the disciples after they received the Holy Spirit, and the revival it brought of people turning to faith in Jesus that resulted…

Fullness of eternal promise / stirring in Your sons and daughters / earth revealing Heavens wonders / Spirit, come! Spirit come!

“‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… ‘And I will grant wonders in the sky, and signs on the earth below.'” Acts 2:17, 19

As the Day of Pentecost began, and the church was born, Peter addresses the busy city of Jerusalem quoting from the promise of the Holy Spirit coming in the book of Joel in the Old Testament.

What You spoke is now unfolding / all Your children shall behold it / dreams awaken in this moment / Spirit, come! Spirit, come!

“And your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…” Acts 2:17

This line was in the song was another reference to the prophecy in Joel of the coming of the Spirit.

Pour it out, let Your love run over / Here and now, let Your glory fill this house / Pour it out, let Your love run over / Here and now, let Your glory fill this house

Referencing the Scriptures above of God’s Spirit being “poured forth on all mankind”. I like the present tense of this – the song is being sung as if we are crying out for God to pour His Spirit on us anew today. A prayer I consistently pray over my life and church.

Now the world awaits Your presence / And this power is within us / We will rise to be Your witness / Spirit, come! Spirit, come!

This third verse directly takes from the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8, where Christ Himself tells us, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…”

The song then crescendos at the bridge which repeats:

Tongues of fire – testifying of the Son / One desire – Spirit, come! Spirit, come! / Speak revival – prophesy like it is done / One desire – Spirit, come! Spirit, come!

The tongues of fire is perhaps the only confusing part to some in the song. Its referencing what took place at the moment that the Spirit came upon the first disciples. In Acts 2:1-4, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”

The tongues of fire, were the writer’s best description of what he was seeing as the Holy Spirit visibly manifested His power on the first followers of Christ. The point was, they had received the Spirit, had His anointed power poured on them, and were now ready to face the world with the message of the resurrected Christ.

In regard to the “Speak revival – prophesy like it is done” What we see in the Scriptures is that when God forecasts the future through one of His prophets, He often speaks of the future in the past tense – to God, the future is just as complete and definitive as the past. So God can speak of the future as if it’s already happened. Along those lines, this song is literally asking God to, “speak revival – prophesy like it is done.”

It’s like asking God to bring that same Holy Spirit – Day of Pentecost – kind of revival to our lives, cities, and nation… and to speak that revival over us as if it were a matter of fact – like it’s already done, This might be my favorite, most well-thought-out line in this song. And it’s the perfect high point to a song that speaks of the coming of the Spirit, and longing for that fresh wind and fire in our churches today.

A few concluding, personal questions for you:

  • Are you seeking the Holy Spirit’s anointing on you as a follower of Jesus?
  • Do you pray for God to “speak revival” over your life/family/community?
  • How can you be a witness of what God is doing in your life?
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you to show the world the hope that Christ alone can bring.

 

Blessings,
Pastor John

PS…
Let our hearts continue burning / For our King is soon returning…

Do you really care?


We live in a time where it’s super easy to feel informed, and simultaneously remain completely sedentary with such information. As a result, we’ve come to the false conclusion that by sharing our opinions, we care about a particular issue.

We have confused expressing our opinion, for being active.

For example, if you say you care about homeless veterans, but the closest you’ve come to doing anything about it is sharing a meme about how “we” don’t take care of homeless veterans, you in fact, do not care for homeless veterans – You just have an opinion, about how other people, the government, churches, etc. should be caring for homeless veterans.

You don’t actually care just by saying that you care. In reality, it makes little to no difference to you, unless you’re willing to get involved. Any issue only really matters to you to the extent that you’re willing to do something about it. And just saying, sharing, posting something, or criticizing others’ actions is not the same as caring or doing something about it.

James 2 tells us that if we see someone hungry, cold, or just otherwise in need and, “…say to them, ‘Go in peace! Be warmed and filled’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use it that?” [emphasis mine]

As my father taught me growing up, A “God bless you!” never fed anyone.

The same goes for sharing our faith as Christ-followers. It isn’t enough for us to post a verse, or a cute pic of something inspirational. We have to go out and tell it. We have to live it – embody the gospel – to the world around us.

The world doesn’t need another Facebook warrior, it needs people willing to actually intervene, spend their time, money, well-being, even their very lives if necessary, to do what is right.

So, care. Do something. Get involved. Go to the needy. Serve the broken. Pour your guts out to make this world a better place. No one cares what you and I think. But they can’t ignore how we serve.

Blessings,
Pastor John

Did Jesus Go to Hell?


A friend, and member of my church recently asked this question, as he and his  wife were both in some degree of uncertainty on the subject. Both of them are faithful godly people who have been in church, read the Bible, and heard the Scriptures most of their life. So this was no novice question. They’re not alone. I’ve heard many people ask this question, and theologians are even somewhat confused on the subject.

Here is my best, short-ish explanation to this curiosity question.

The only biblical basis for this question at all is found in Acts 2:27, where an Old Testament prophecy is quoted in some translations as, “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (KJV). However, “hell” here – at least, as we generally understand it – is misinterpreted. This misinterpretation is regrettably repeated in other translations, and then again in the Apostle’s Creed, which directly says that Christ, “descendit ad infernos“. Yes,  infernos, in Latin always understood as the eternal burning hell. Thanks, for the confusion, fourth century church leaders…

But this verse in Acts is a direct quote from Psalm 16:10, “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol [emphasis, mine]; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” (NASB). This Psalm prophesied the death and resurrection of Jesus nearly a millennium in advance. And the original word in the original quote being understood as “hell” in Acts 2:27 was actually the Hebrew word, Sheol – “the place of the dead.” It was a general reference to the grave, the spiritual dimension, the afterlife in general, or, yes, hell – as in THE Hell… infernos, as the fourth century writer’s of the Apostle’s Creed put it. 

We must utilize biblical context to understand which meaning is accurate for the original writing. This quote was written in Psalm, a Hebrew song and poetry book that consistently rhymed thoughts rather than sounds like we do in music and poetry today. So it frequently repeats a thought by rewording it. This gives the reader or  listener deeper understanding by hearing the same exact thought expressed a different way. So in our verse from Acts 2/Psalm 16, we read:

“Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades [In Hebrew, Sheol],
Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.”

The second part of that thought-rhyme is clearly telling us that God would not allow Christ’ body to remain in the grave long enough to receive significant corpse decay. Since this was written in the format of Hebrew poetry, returning to the first part of this quote about Christ’ soul not being abandoned to “Sheol”, it’s safe to understand that as His soul being left “in the place of the dead” or “separated from His body.” Thus, being reunited with his glorified body, before decay, and not leaving His spirit in “the place of the dead.”

But what if we got it wrong… what if it meant this, but also meant THE Hell? Three thoughts…

  1. 1 Peter 3:19 makes reference to Jesus “proclaiming to the spirits who are imprisoned”. Some think this meant in Hell. But if you read in it’s context, you’ll see that this is likely referring to demonic spirits – not human ones – whom it appears that Jesus was judging after He rose again.  Still, there is a vague possibility that this occurred IN Hell, but many think that’s a bit of a stretch.
  2. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus Himself says that He possess the “keys to Hell and death.” So what? Didn’t say where or how He got them. Maybe He’s always had them. I mean, who else would have them?
  3. If… and I do emphasize IF, Jesus went to THE Hell at all, He did not go as a prisoner. He went as the warden. On the cross, Jesus cried out “It is finished” meaning that the debt of our sin had been paid. So IF Jesus went to Hell, it was not to suffer or pay for our sins – it was to exert His rightful authority and position to stand in judgment because of who He is, and what He had just done.

There. I hope that cleared some things up or at least gave you some decent content to process as you form your own opinion. Regardless, we know He’s at the right hand of God the Father now (Hebrew 12:1-3).

Blessings,
Pastor John