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It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:  You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols (even though Jesus declared all foods to be clean [Mark 7.18-19]), from blood (even though Jesus taught we are to drink His blood [John 6.55-56]), from the meat of strangled animals (even though Jesus commanded that we should eat His flesh, which was strangled on the cross [John 6.55-56]) and from sexual immorality (Jesus taught, “…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” [Matthew 5.28]).  You will do well to avoid these things. [Acts 15.28-29]

So how well do the churches that have emphasised the avoidance of these things done?  Now before we go any further, we must define standards as to what is considered well done.  From the context of the Kingdom of God, ‘well done’ is when the power of the kingdom is at a constant flow for the miracles of Jesus to be as common as wood and stone.  For what sets the Kingdom of God apart from the kingdoms of the world, including the kingdoms of the church?  Is it not the miraculous power of the Lord?  In Nazareth, He did not do many miracles there because, as it is written:  …of their lack of faith.  [Matthew 13.58]

The absence of miracles in the churches is a measure of their lack of faith, for it requires faith for even the Lord to do miracles among those who are supposed to know Him, like the citizens of Nazareth.  They claimed to know Him, saying, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s Son?  Isn’t His mother’s name Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?  Aren’t all His sisters with us?  Where then did this Man get all these things?”  [Matthew 13.55-56]

A church may do well because of its large size, and that is doing well in the eyes of the world.  However, it is not the monopoly of the church to have large congregations or denominations.  A ‘Christian’ may be doing well prospering in the world of mammon, but it is not the monopoly of Christians to prosper in mammon.  Indeed, any ‘Christian’ who does prosper in mammon has to be careful that he is not serving both God and mammon.

It is likewise not the monopoly of the church to practise avoidance of certain foods and avoidance of sexual immorality.  Other religions do that as well, if not better.  So, it is amazing that it would seem good to the ‘holy spirit’ of Acts 15.28 that the gentiles were told that they would do well holding to the recommendations of James the Younger, half-brother of Jesus, whose father and mother were Joseph and Mary.  It completely contradicts the mandate that the Lord Jesus gave the Spirit of Truth [John 14.17] whom He later referred to as the Holy Spirit. [John 14.26]  It is all the more amazing because three of the four recommendations contradict the teachings of Jesus, and the fourth is made nigh impossible by the word of Jesus unless you are blind.  So, is the ‘holy spirit’ of Acts 15.28 the same person whom Jesus spoke of in John 14.26?

Remember, even if the names are the same, it does not mean they are the same person.  If the ‘holy spirit’ of Acts 15.28 is the same person as the Holy Spirit of John 14.26, then in those churches that are practising the four recommendations of James, there would also be displays of miraculous power constantly.  However, there is no such display or availability of power to those who have chosen to listen to the ‘holy spirit’ of Acts 15.28.  For the Lord has said that the Holy Spirit He was sending would give us power to be His witnesses so that even mere believers can speak in the new languages, drive out demons, pick up serpents and drink poison and no harm will come to them, they will lay hands on the sick and they will be healed.  How much more the disciples then?  These are the signs that accompany believers, not the signs that accompany disciples, that is, those set apart by the Lord for ministry as apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors.

In John 14.12 Jesus said, “…anyone who has faith in Me will do the things I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these…”  For the Holy Spirit of John 14.26 is also known as the Spirit of Power.  It was He, as the Spirit of Holiness, who raised Jesus from the dead by His power, declaring Jesus to be the Son of God.  So the true Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Power, where He is received, His presence is always confirmed by His power, testifying to this one truth about Jesus Christ – that Jesus is alive, risen from the dead, and Jesus spoke and taught for some forty days after His resurrection.

You see, elect, the words of Mark 16.15-18 were spoken after Jesus rose from the dead.  These words could not have been spoken if He were still dead, and that is why the speaking in tongues is so important.  For the disciples were already driving out demons and healing the sick before the Lord died.  Elisha protected his people from poison and Moses picked up a serpent and no harm came to him.  Two of those signs were already present in the Old Testament, and two were already happening before the crucifixion.  But the speaking in new tongues is something the Lord mentioned for the first time after the resurrection.  The ability of any believer to have the five signs accompany them, especially the gift of tongues, confirms and testifies to the truth that Christ is alive!  Every time a believer speaks in the gift of tongues is the proof that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive!

Now you wonder why the gift of tongues has been discouraged, discarded, disdained and stamped out by so many denominations, even the Pentecostals seem to have lost their zeal for the use of this gift lately.

A member of the Sydney workshop discovered that if you remove the words spoken by Jesus from Mark 16.17-18, the number of words spoken by Jesus after the resurrection becomes 666 words.  Coincidence?  By the way, the number of words spoken post resurrection is 722 in the NIV.

As such, would not the Holy Spirit have deemed it good, even essential, that the Gentile believers all first spoke in tongues, drove out demons, not worry about poison or serpents, and heal the sick, before paying any attention to the avoidance of certain foods and of even sexual immorality?  Indeed, He would and does.  That is why when the Holy Spirit of John 14.26 is present, even new believers speak in tongues, and more experienced believers can drive out demons and heal the sick by the laying on of hands without prayer or anointing in oil.

So, who is the ‘holy spirit’ of Acts 15.28?

I call him the spirit of the church, but he is certainly not the Spirit of Truth whom Jesus sent.  It is a spirit created by the church by its faith and collusion and maintained by its faith to listen to men like James rather than obey the holy command of the Father to listen to Jesus the Son only. [Matthew 17.5; Mark 9.7; Luke 9.35]   For even the Son said to Peter, “You must follow Me.” [John 21.22]

You may disagree and object most violently.  I suggest you save your breathe and energy, for the days of distress that are upon us will surely test the spirit that leads and guides you and your congregation, for it is those who practise the words of Jesus who are like the wise man who built his house on the rock, digging deep for its foundation so that when the wind blows, the river rises, the rain falls and the torrent strikes, the house is not shaken and will not fall.  As for those who have heard the words of Jesus but did not practise them because they were too busy practising the words of men like James, as Jesus said, their house will fall with a crash!

The spirit of Acts 15.28 will have you practise the words of James without mentioning a word of Jesus.  There are no teachings of Jesus mentioned in the letter of Acts 15.23.  But the Spirit of Truth, when He comes, will guide you into all truth and remind you of what Jesus has said, make known to you what belongs to Jesus, tell you what He has heard and what is yet to come, and bring glory to Jesus, not to James.

So, if there is any spirit we need to drive out from among us, it is the spirit of Acts 15.28 – the impostor, the religious powerless one, the spirit of the church – which does not have in mind the things of God but of men… men like James.

Hr. Ed, manager of the Holy Spirit’s Workshop, Sydney

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