Baptism and Confirmation
in the Ruach haQodesh
Sabbath School: Saturday 3 May 2003
The gift or baptism of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is what distinguishes true born-again believers from those who operate in the psychic realm or under the mediation of demons, and what we in NCCG call 'symbolic' or 'nominal' Christians. A correct understanding of the biblical doctrine of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is therefore essential if we are to stay on the narrow path that leads to the Heavenly Kingdom of Yahweh. For this reason I have devoted two lessons to this important topic.
The first thing that needs to be both stated and underlined is that the Ruach (Spirit) of the Old Testament is the same Ruach (Spirit) of the New. The Ruach (Spirit) goes by a number of different Names which may at first glance give the impression that there are different "Spirits" belonging to different members of the Godhead. The most often used Names are the Ruach Elohim or 'Spirit of God', the Ruach haMashiach or 'Spirit of Christ', the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit/Ghost), the Comforter variously translated into English as 'Paraclete', 'Advocate' and 'Counsellor', the Shekinah which is the 'glory' or 'radiance' of the Elohim amongst believing humans, Hochmah which translates into 'Wisdom' or the Greek 'Sophia', and some others. Consistently and without variation in the Hebrew-Aramaic Old and New Testaments the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is feminine and is the Heavenly Mother. She is described in metaphorical terms as 'Israel', 'Zion', and 'Jerusalem' and also manifests symbolically as a Dove. It is in our Greek translations of the New Testament that confusion has occurred because the Greek equivalent of the feminine Hebrew ruach is pneuma which has a neuter gender. To make matters even more confusing, translators impute a masculine gender on Her to harmonise with the Catholic Trinitarian doctrine which insists that the Godhead is all male.
I maintain that a correct doctrine of the Ruach haQodesh is a linchpin in the Gospel and that it is over this member of the Godhead that so much disagreement and controversy has arisen. As we shall see next week, the fruits of the Ruach (Spirit) are undoubtedly feminine in certain primary aspects. Throughout the Bible the Elohim are sometimes described in feminine terms such as a mother hen protecting her chicks (Ps.91:4; Mt.23:37) or as nurturing breasts, pictures that make little sense if the Godhead is all-male. And what has happened historically is that this defeminising of the Godhead by Catholics and their progeny has meant a spiritual vacuum in the soul of man which has been filled by dark powers by blasphemously transferring the glory of the Ruach (Spirit) to a mortal human being, namely, the Virgin Mary, who has been virtually divinised as the 'Mother of God'.
The corruption of the Godhead doctrine has been an important target for Satan who recognises the human need for the divine feminine as much as it needs the divine masculine. We all need fathers and mothers and we likewise need a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. The Elohim, whilst presided over by the Father, Yahweh, whom alone we worship as the Head, nevertheless includes a Mother also who provides an essential rôle in the salvation and regeneration of man. Because orthodox Christendom has obscured the femininity of the Ruach (Spirit) this has been exploited by occultists, and most noticeably Wiccans, who not only claim to make up for the deficit but turn the whole doctrine around and claim that the supreme God is in fact a 'goddess' whom they know by various names, and in particular Hecate. This 'goddess', moreover, is a trinity like the Elohim. Unfortunately this is not our Heavenly Mother but a clever counterfeit, being one of the brides of Satan, namely, a demoness, also known in the Bible as the "queen of heaven" or Ishtar (Jer.7:18). She has, moreover, worked her way into Christendom through the charismatic movement and other apostate wings and pretends to be the 'Holy Spirit'. Her fruits are naturally very different from those of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) though appear similar in some important respects. Where a true doctrine of the Ruach (Spirit) lacks, a vacuum is left which is filled in by other powers that masquerade.
When a soul is baptised in the true Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) a whole cluster of clearly identifiable fruits are produced in the believer. According to one tradition, the only 'fruit' that is needed to prove that baptism of the Holy Spirit has taken place is that the believer speaks in tongues. Thus according to this doctrine someone who does not 'speak in tongues' has not been baptised in the fire of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). This doctrine is utterly and totally false. Speaking gibberish is not a fruit of the Ruach (Spirit). And as we shall examine in a later study, the only true biblical tongues is the supernatural ability to speak in a recognisable foreign language, it is only given to some people at certain occasions like the gift of prophecy, and it is always in the presence of at least one person by whom it is understood or is a mother tongue. And finally, there is usually a translator, similarly supernaturally endowed, so that those for whom this is not a known language can be edified. To claim that the ability to speak in gibberish is the only sure sign of baptism in the Ruach (Spirit) is a pernicious heresy and very, very dangerous. This kind of 'tongues', moreover, is very common to the occult and to Satanism.
I would like to spend the rest of this lesson examining the true fruits of the Ruach (Spirit) so that these can be clearly identified in true believers. We will begin with the Old Testament which is the primary revelation of this member of the Godhead and which describes a fivefold action.
The Fivefold Action of the Ruach in the Old Testament
We first meet the Ruach (Spirit) in the Old Testament where She is present at creation and described as the Ruach Elohim or 'Spirit of God'. She broods over the primaeval waters (Gen.1:2) and created man (Gen.2:7) as one would expect of a Mother. She sustains animal life, renews the face of the earth (Ps.104:30), garnishes the heavens (Job 26:13), and is identified with divine breath, energy and power. She is the principle of man's physical and physiological life. We learn that we were designed by Yahweh-Elohim to be open to the resources of the Ruach Elohim to thereby learn to reflect the nature of the Elohim (God) in ourselves. We are described by David as "the lamp of Yahweh" (Ps.18:28) when we are in Her hand. When our spirit is rightly related to the Ruach Elohim we fulfil Yahweh's purpose in our being. When the Old Testament describes man as 'having' a spirit or 'is' a spirit this is synonymous with having the true heart of a person. So that when the Ruach (Spirit) is in us, we become a true human being with a heart like that of Yahweh.
Unfortunately, man is self-centred because of sin and in this state he mars his own personality, dishonours Yahweh, and spites the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). It is when we are in our 'divine creative mode' as builders of righteousness and of goodness that we fulfil this function of the divine Ruach (Spirit) within us. When our personality is orientated to the Ruach Elohim we glorify Yahweh.
The second function of the Ruach (Spirit) is to equip the children of Yahweh for service. She comes upon those whom Yahweh selects to do special tasks (without necessarily transforming them morally) by giving them the skills needed for them to carry out their duty. These can include such apparently carnal things as craftsmanship (Ex.31:3), leadership (Judg.3:10), or physical prowess (Judg.14:6) and be received by believers and unbelievers alike. This is important to remember.
Thirdly, She inspires the prophets who sometimes offend the more spiritually sensitive or circumspect. Most of Yahweh's prophets are very conscious of the Ruach's influence which produces some very distinctive traits. The first and most important of these traits is high moral order which may at times lead to spiritual spontaneity and independent nonconformity to the traditions of men (cp. Num.11:29). This principle is especially reiterated by Isaiah and Ezekiel who identify the Ruach (Spirit) unambiguously with Yahweh (Is.63:10-11) and provide two of the three Old Testament instances of the use of the term 'Ruach haQodesh'.
Fourthly, Her effect on men and women alike is always high moral living. The Psalms reiterate this trait again and again (see Ps.51; 139). For the psalmist the presence of the Ruach (Spirit) means a broken, contrite spirit, a clean heart, constancy, and joy. And in Psalm 139:7 the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) is always equated with Yahweh's presence and both are inescapable. Thus when you are in the presence of someone with the Ruach Elohim (Holy Spirit) operating unimpeded you are in the Presence of Yahweh, the Most High God. And when you are in this proximity and power the immediate reaction of the human soul which loves Yahweh in an inward searching and an outward leading in the ways of eternity (vv.23-24).
This is probably the most important Old Testament characteristic of the Ruach (Spirit). Her presence leads to a broken heart, a contrite spirit, a clean heart, constancy, joy, inward searching and an outward reaching towards eternity. These seven signs are very significant indeed. People who are proud, arrogant, impure, keep chopping and changing, miserable, who aren't searching within their souls and who are no longer reaching for the Kingdom evidence that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is not operative within them in the moral sphere. These seven streams of moral activity are reflective of the sevenfold nature of the Ruach (Spirit) who is described in Scripture as both One and Seven (Rev.1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6).
Fifthly, and finally in the Old Testament, the Ruach (Spirit) is actively involved in foretelling the Messiah and in that connection also foretelling Her own rôle in the New Covenant to come. There are two strands of this Messianic prophetic work of the Ruach (Spirit). Firstly, She prophesies that the coming Messiah will be fully and completely indwelt by the Ruach (Spirit) (Is.11:2-9; 42:1-4; 61:1-2; cp. Lk.4:18). Second, She reveals how those who are filled with Her in the Messianic Kingdom will more fully experience Her under the New Covenant (Ezek.36:26-27; cp. Joel 2:28ff.). It is these fruits that we now need examine carefully because they pertain to our dispensation.
The New Testament Witness
The Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is mentioned in every single New Testament book except the 2nd and 3rd letters of John. She is associated with the events immediately prior to the birth of Yah'shua (Jesus) - with His conception, the birth itself and the events immediately following it, with His baptism (Mt.3:13-17), temptation (Mt.4:1-11), the inauguration of His ministry (Lk.4:14), His inaugural address (Lk.4:18ff), His exorcism of demons, and the commissioning of His disciples to baptise in the Name of the Elohim (Mt.28:19) which includes a reference to Her. Obviously the position and importance of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in the ministry of the Son of God is very important. And yet, as Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself testified, She was not destined to play Her fullest rôle until after the Cross, resurrection, and ascension. Thus it would be true to say that the Ruach (Spirit) was fully present and complete in Yah'shua (Jesus) (Jn.3:34), She was only able to be with the disciples (Jn.14:47). And She is only able to be in us now because Yah'shua (Jesus) is in us. That is critical to understand: the Ruach (Spirit) cannot be in us without Yah'shua (Jesus).
Yah'shua (Jesus) was described as an ever-present Counsellor, Advocate, Comforter and Strengthener relative to His disciples and not until after His departure was the other Comforter needed. So long as Yah'shua (Jesus) could be His own interpreter and witness and could repeat the teachings given Him of Yahweh to His disciples there was no need of Another to enlighten, to witness, and to bring His words to remembrance. Only in the case of the disciples receiving a witness of who Yah'shua (Jesus) was, as did Peter at Caesarea Philippi, did such revelation come directly from Yahweh, it being given from the Father through the Ruach Elohim.
The function of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) today, and ever since Yah'shua (Jesus) left this physical realm, is to convince sinners of their sins in terms of their unbelief in Christ, of righteousness because Christ has ascended to the Father, of judgement because of the verdict passed upon the prince of this world in the death of Christ (Jn.16:7-11). Yah'shua (Jesus) made it very clear that the Ruach (Spirit) would not supersede or dispense with His work and Person, but rather dispense and supervise respectively the riches and activity of Christ (cp. Ac.1:1, where 'began' implies that Yah'shua (Jesus) would continue to act and teach by the Ruach haMashiach - the Spirit of Christ).
Many charismatics wrongly claim that the Ruach (Spirit) was 'not important' in the time before Pentecost (Shavu'ot). This is not correct. The fact of the matter is that the Ruach (Spirit) is described as both a present reality (Jn.3:5-8) and (at the end of the Gospel) as 'yet to come'. Thus She is 'both/and' as opposed to 'either/or'. You cannot, as some false teachers maintain, claim that She was absent before Pentecost. Whilst John the Baptist's prediction that the Messiah would baptise with the Ruach (Spirit) and fire was partially fulfilled during Yah'shua's (Jesus') lifetime, it had to wait for Pentecost (Shavu'ot) for its fuller realisation. Just as Yahweh's revelation is given in degrees, so the manifestation of the Ruach (Spirit) follows a similar pattern.
Because the Ruach (Spirit) is personal and has female gender does not mean, however, that She cannot act in an impersonal way or even in a male capacity. The book of Acts recounts the 'outpouring' of the Ruach (Spirit) and Her manifold operations. And on some occasions the stress is laid on the energy of the Ruach (Spirit) as if She were acting in an impersonal manner. Thus She 'falls upon' and 'fills' the disciples (Ac.2:1ff). On other occasions She demonstrates that She is personal, as in Acts 5:1ff where She can be lied against, and in other passages which speak of Her 'guiding', 'appointing' and 'comforting'. In Acts also Christ and the Ruach (Spirit) are clearly distinguished. Notice especially 8:16 & 19:1-6, where the gifts of the Ruach (Spirit) are given subsequent to the gift of regeneration and are seemingly more visible and audible. There is no ground, however, for inferring that the experience of the power-gift of the Ruach (Spirit) can be had apart from Christ. It is to those who believe the promise made prior to, and by, Christ (cp. Old Testament cross references to Ac.2:39 - Is.54:13; 57:19; Joel 2:28-32), and await its fulfilment, that the Ruach (Spirit) comes. The express purpose of the gift of the Ruach (Spirit), which we shall be discussing next week, is to equip for witness the mighty works of Yahweh in Christ when He wrought salvation in Zion. The Ruach (Spirit) is not to be exulted for Her own sake but for Christ's sake and thus for Yahweh's sake. It is in the strong Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) that the Ruach (Spirit)-filled apostles preach and do their miraculous works of love (Ac.3:6). And the Ruach (Spirit) jealously guards the honour of Her Son and thus Her Husband, Yahweh, who sent Him and delegated His authority to Him, and refuses glory to Herself and to men (cp. Jn.16:14).
This being manifestly true scripturally, one can see, for instance, the danger of the United Pentecostal Unitarian Doctrine which claims that there is only One Person in the Godhead who changes hats ('Father', 'Son', and 'Spirit'), or other doctrines such as Trinitarianism which maintains co-equality and co-authority between members of the Godhead as well as denying the true gender of the Ruach (Spirit), the polytheism of Mormonism which has a Heavenly Mother in addition to the Holy Ghost and (depending on which faction you support) may view Adam as God and the existence of billions of gods, or the Arianism of the Jehovah's Witnesses which denies that Yah'shua (Jesus) is fully Elohim (God) and views the Ruach (Spirit) as an impersonal 'force' sent by 'Jehovah'.
The most detailed description of activities of the Ruach haQodesh are to be found in the Epistles which describe the experience of the first century Messianic Community (Church) of Her. And as we shall see these fall into essentially two categories. First, there are the overt, amoral, and impersonal gifts such as tongues and prophecy (1 Thes.5:19-20) and then, second, the inward, personal and moral attributes (1 Thes.1:5-6). And as we know, much of Paul's writings are occupied with correcting the extravagant claims regarding the Ruach (Spirit) and the abuse of these same gifts to the detriment of the harmony of the Community (Church), the same problems faced by Christians today which are arguably far worse and on a much greater scale than then.
One thing that is very clear about the biblical teaching of the Ruach (Spirit) is that She is in such an echad oneness or union with the Father, and with Christ Her Son, that to all intents and purposes the activities of the 'One' are indistinguishable from the Others, which is the kind of union that Yah'shua (Jesus) aspired for His disciples. Understanding echad is not easy for most, even for born-again Christians, because it isn't something acquired in the twinkling of an eye. This lack of understanding and depth of vision is the reason why there is so much confusion over Godhead doctrines. Neither the Ruach (Spirit) nor the rest of the Elohim will ever be understood until believers dismiss the sectarian doctrines and let the Bible speak for itself - completely. Furthermore, we must first of all let the Old Testament teach us which is where the root of our understanding of the Ruach (Spirit) comes from and that, of course, is always in the context of Torah.
To understand the Ruach (Spirit) is to understand ourselves, to understand our relationship to one another, and to understand women. Everything we read in Scripture is about relationships - relationships between the Elohim and man, between man and man, man and woman, husbands and wives, and parents and children. These relationships are horizontal (between each other) and simultaneously vertical (between us and God). There are hierarchies and rôles which are clearly spelled out in the Bible and which we ignore at our own peril.
In particular, the Ruach (Spirit) never operates independently of Her Son but is at His disposal but only by authority of the Father to whom She belongs and from whom She was taken to be His helpmeet as Eve was created to be Adam's helpmeet.
When Joseph died, Yah'shua (Jesus) became head of the household and Mary served her firstborn son. When Yah'shua (Jesus) was dying on the Cross, He assigned the apostle John to look after her as an adopted son. Notice that in the absence of her husband Joseph, she no longer exercised headship over her son. Similarly, the Ruach (Spirit) does not exercise headship over Yah'shua (Jesus) which is why She is placed as the third and not the second member of the Godhead, even though She is the Bride of Yahweh and therefore in another sense and in the heavenly sphere ranks as #2 and to whom Yah'shua (Jesus) is subordinate. After the end of this age there are major changes in authority structures and we learn that the authority Yahweh gave to His Son is returned to Him (1 Cor.15:24-25). This will presumably include the Mother - the Ruach (Spirit) - acting in a subordinate, supporting position.
The Ruach (Spirit) today bears witness of the Son Yah'shua (Jesus) who in turn bears witness of the Father Yahweh. This line of authority is important to understand. For one who has been baptised in the Ruach (Spirit) glorifies Christ and in so doing glorifies the Father. Many Christians worship the 'Holy Spirit' as though there were no Father and Son, and others worship 'Jesus' as though there was no Father. We, however, are to worship the Father Yahweh alone through Yah'shua (Jesus) as we are led and guided by the Ruach (Spirit). The model prayer of Yah'shua (Jesus) clearly establishes to whom we are to pray and whom we are to worship. We recognise the rôle of each member of the Godhead in our salvation but our eyes are on Yahweh always - and we honour all by our worship of Yahweh-Elohim. Indeed, the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) is exalted, and is the Name above all names because - and only because - it contains the Name of the Father, Yah. Thus when we praise God we do not - and should not - praise 'Jesus' but the 'Salvation of Yah' which is what 'Yah'shua' means. We cry, 'Hallelu-Yah', not 'Hallelu-Yah'shua' or 'Hallelu-Jesus', for we praise the Father-Saviour, not the agent of salvation, who desires all glory to go to His Father. And we are apt to forget the echad union of the Godhead - for when you honour the Head, Yahweh, you honour all.
One who is baptised in the Ruach (Spirit) will know these things for they will be led through Yah'shua to Yahweh the Father by Her. That is why we as a fellowship are called the B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh ('New Covenant Church of God', where 'God' is Eloah, the Father, Yahweh). And the moment you are brought to Yahweh, you are brought to His Torah too. Which is why, I suspect, the Father has been downgraded in most Christian Churches because they would rather not obey His Laws.
Next week we shall be looking at the gifts of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
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