Posted in study, topical

Was the Holy Spirit present on earth before Pentecost?

Was the Holy Spirit on earth before Pentecost? (the traditional start date of the Church) What ministries did the Holy Spirit engage in before Pentecost, recognized as the traditional start of the church? How did He operate in the Old Testament?

 EPrata photo

He was present on earth and involved on earth since the beginning!

He participated in creation-

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-3)

His ministry of instruction of the ways of God were active and direct.

You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. (Nehemiah 9:20)

His ministry of instruction of the ways of God were active and indirect. The Spirit empowered the men to craft the temple,

The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: (Exodus 31:1-6)

The Spirit acted as comforter and wisdom when God said He would take some of the Spirit that is on Moses and share Him with elders so that the overburdened Moses could share the duties of administering the People of Israel.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone (Numbers 11:16-17)


Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it. (Numbers 11:25)

The Spirit of the Lord was on (not in) people at various times, in this case, on Othniel so he could judge Israel

But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he judged Israel. (Judges 3:9-10a)

And on Gideon, (Judges 6:34), and Jephthah, (Judges 11:29) and Amasai (1 Chronicles 12:18), and so on. Sometimes the LORD takes away the Spirit.

Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. (1 Samuel 16:14)

The Spirit not only guides and instructs, but spoke from God through men. This is David speaking in the verse-
The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. (2 Samuel 23:2).

The Spirit also spoke through the prophets. (Nehemiah 9:30).

The Spirit of God makes us, as Job noted, (Job 33:4)

There are innumerable ways the Bible shows us that God in all three Persons have been intimately involved with mankind since He created us. The Holy Spirit is a major part of the Trinity and has always had roles to carry out and ministries to perform, since the beginning. Of course my essay is short and only barely scratches the surface, but it’s just a way to get you thinking.

It’s fun and interesting to do a topical study. From time to time I look into one subject and it could be theological like this one about the Spirit or agricultural such as wheat, chaff, and grain production. I enjoyed looking up “linen” and found a wealth of information on it. If you’re wondering what Book of the Bible to read next but can’t decide, as you ruminate, why not to a topical study?

Is the mustard seed really the smallest seed? How big do mustard trees grow? How common was the existence of lions in historic Palestine? And why did they die out?  Why did prophets wear the rough clothing, from whence did that originate? Why was foot washing a big deal and what are the physical and theological implications of the practice? How did they make wine? Is the olive tree the hardiest tree in the region? What were the five major offerings in the Bible and how do they differ from one another?

You see how fun it is to ask questions and then dig in. What would you do a topical study on?

Posted in crown college, encouragement, logos 6, resources, study

Logos 6, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), plus tons of other resources!

Pastor, Blogger and Christian Book Reviewer Tim Challies has been reviewing the bible software Logos since version 3, I believe. I’ve been reading his reviews with interest because I like to study. I’ve been wondering if it is time to move from my hard copy library (all 10 books) to a software library. However, it takes me a long time to pay out money for what I can get for free. I use biblehub, a free online resource featuring an online bible, commentaries, parallel verses, various translations, maps, the original languages, dictionaries, pictures, and more.

However, it also takes me a long time to study a passage while groping around by myself, cobbling together the various things I want so study. I copy and paste, scribble notes, forget where I was going, and start over again.

I also really enjoy studying the maps and the natural history of the context of the bible passage I am reading. You might have noticed this in the various essays I’ve posted on the actual wheat and weeds mentioned in the NT, onions, the process of making linen, cedar trees, and more. If a passage says an army marched here or there, I want to see it on a map. I study the topography, too. For example, in Phil Johnson’s sermons on the Psalms, there is a reason many of them are called a Psalm of Ascent. The geographical or topographical references in a passage are there for a reason, and I enjoy studying the cultural background in addition to the actual verse. It brings depth to my study.

Particularly time consuming is going outside biblehub to find more commentaries and histories on Old Testament texts and having to spend time to discern whether a particular site is credible.

So, like Pastor Challies and many others, I’ve been wondering if now is the time to cough up some money and take the plunge.

By happenstance, a friend posted on her Facebook page that there is an Old Testament online course offered by Crown College for free. I love the Old Testament and have felt for some time that I’ve reached a plateau in my study of it. These kinds of classes are periodically offered by many institutions. They are quality classes, but they are like the display at the front of the grocery store as you go in “where a product is sold at a price below its market cost to stimulate other sales of more profitable goods or services,” or so explains Wikipedia of the concept of loss leader. In the education realm, these classes are called ‘Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)’. For the Crown College MOOC, I will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the 7-week class, and if I want to pursue additional courses by enrolling, I will receive a discount toward future credits.

I don’t anticipate wanting to go through a formal seminary course, but a free, short-term higher education online class in a survey of the OT sounds great. I won’t lose anything if the Professor suddenly starts teaching evolution or miracles as allegory- I can just drop out with no funds lost. Even the course textbook is low-cost and I’ll always have that on my bookshelf at the end of the course. Best of all, my Facebook friend (who I know in real life but who lives over 1000 miles away) said she enrolled too. Even if she and I do not end up in the same small-group, it’s nice to know she and I are sharing this experience together.

So when an email came announcing 20% off Logos 6, accompanied by a tutorial video, I decided to finally check it out. I can’t recommend the software myself yet, it’s still downloading and I have not used it. But the testimonials from credible bible teachers and pastors, and the staying power of the company, seem to indicate that at this stage, investing in it would make sense.

Here are some other resources that may interest you. Online bible reading and studying might not be your preference. It wasn’t mine for these last 7 years. You may not have the finances to afford Logos. It took me a long time to save up for it, lol. Most of these listed below are free, and the ones that cost are low-cost.

I mentioned BibleHub. This website has massive amounts on it. All free.

  • Online bibles in most translations
  • Atlas
  • Greek or Hebrew/Concordance]
  • Commentaries (many of them!)
  • Lexicon, using Strong’s Word
  • Dictionary
  • Maps
  • Parallel translations, cross references has online bible but I like biblehub better for that. What I really like at biblegateway is their other resources such as “All the women of the bible”. They list all the women by name and you can read a synopsis of their lives with verses. I looked up Michal recently because I’m reading 1 Samuel. “All the men of the bible” are there too. I can never figure out how to get to the list through the biblegateway site so I just google “all the women of the bible…biblegateway” and the search result brings me there.

Biblegateway also has a better search function than biblehub, where you can limit the search for a verse to a specific book, or series of books, like OT or NT or Prophetic Books, or Gospels. Biblegateway also gives a search result that has a few verses where biblehub’s search is one verse only or else the whole chapter. It saves a bit of time over the search at biblehub

As you know I listen to a lot of sermons. I like many preachers but the ones who have the sermons transcribed I find especially helpful

I listen to —


Martyn Lloyd Jones at (no transcription)

Don Green ( no transcribed sermons, audio only

S Lewis Johnson Sermons are transcribed. He does a lot of OT sermons so that is helpful for reading or listening to a text.

John MacArthur at, all sermons transcribed, except the most recent one.

Phil Johnson (MacArthur’s executive director of sermons are transcribed, Phil does great with the psalms, very helpful.

Mark Dever’s 9Marks site has a wealth of resources for living church life.


Studylight has a lot of commentaries. The James Burton Coffman commentary is at studylight, and his commentary is one of the best of the 20th century. Some commentaries stand out. Certain men are known for digging into this book or that book.

I have a hard time finding good commentaries or texts on the Old Testament, especially the Prophets. here are a few resources.

David Baron is known for his work on Zechariah’s prophecies/visions. This link gos to a .pdf.

Puritan John Owen is known for his work on Hebrews.

George Adam Smith (1893) is known for his work on Isaiah.

From Kay Arthur’s Precept Austin site, a variety of works on Jeremiah.

Oliver B Greene (1963) on Revelation, A Verse-By-Verse study. I have this book in hard copy. It’s good. Here is the online version-


The Master’s Seminary has a free The Master’s Journal online and also on youtube, seminary lectures

The Master’s Seminary Journal
Joshua Crooch’s youtube channel has the Master’s Seminary lectures


Kevin Halloran has a site where you can access 250+ additional resources, articles, commentaries, book recommendations etc. here is just one paragraph of his page, (at his page they’re all hyperlinks)

Audio lectures are one facet of a complete education involving personal instruction and reading relevant books. For each of the disciplines listed below, I have assembled a list of recommended books from my own personal study or various recommendations. For more recommendations, see: 9 Marks’ Ministries book recommendations, The Gospel Coalition’s Recommended books, Westminster Theological Seminary’s Recommended Reading, Alistair Begg’s Recommended Books for Pastors, or Reformed Theological Seminary’s reading list, or Wayne Grudem’s Seminary Book List. For recommended lists of the best Bible Commentaries, I’d suggest, and for a Reformed perspective, Ligonier Ministries and Tim Challies have great recommendations.


Though these are not free, these resources have been so great I can’t help but mention them. Todd Friel’s ‘Drive By’ series. There are many more than these two, but I bought these two and went through them. I am almost done with “Drive By Pneumatology” and I finished Drive By Discernment. There’s Drive By Marriage, Drive By Parenting, Drive By Theology, etc. There are many lectures on each, DBD has 72. DBP has about 50. It is called “drive by” because they are short lectures. Short enough to listen to on even the shortest commute.

At the Wretched Store:

They’re short, 15 min or less lectures on the topic. Todd Friel has many different men speak on the topic, like Phil Johnson, Justin Peters, Trevin Wax, and the short lectures are very clear and helpful. You can buy CD or do an immediate download. For 72 or more lectures it only costs 19.99.

I hope this suggested list has been helpful. No matter what the tools, the premier Helper is the Holy Spirit. He has taken me from a babe in Christ to where I am now, embarking on a more organized and rigorous study plan, over the last 7 years. He is more than able to teach you, with or without additional study tools. Hopefully your entire interest in any of these tools is to study the word so as to know more about the savior who reigns. We worship a risen Savior whose attributes are revealed in God’s word. Knowing Him and worshiping Him is the highest goal and a full meal of spiritually satisfying food. In using these tools they help us in this pursuit- but don’t let the search for tools distract you from personal and persistent study.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Thanks and God bless.

Posted in discern, holy spirit, jesus, mind, philip, study, understanding

Do you understand what you are reading?

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot. So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:26-31)

Above, The Monteleone Chariot is an Etruscan chariot dated to ca. 530 BC. It was originally uncovered at Monteleone di Spoleto and is currently part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Though about 300 ancient chariots are known to still exist, only six are reasonably complete, and the Monteleone chariot is the best-preserved. Wikimedia Commons

The above is a tremendous passage, full of meaning and worthy of lengthy study. I’ll mention a few things that caught my eye, but the central lesson at this moment, is this:

The mind versus the heart. Then versus now.

Philip was going along and heard a word from the Spirit. Philip obeyed Him. We have the closed canon now but we obey the Spirit-inspired word.

Here was a eunuch reading the text of the word of God. (Isaiah 53). Philip saw him and was directed to the eunuch by the Spirit. Philip obeyed, more than that, Philip ran. Today we don’t obey, or if we do, we don’t hasten to do so.

When Philip arrived at the chariot, he heard the eunuch reading Isaiah. Philip recognized:
–it was the word of God the eunuch was reading, and
–where within the word of God the eunuch was reading from.

Today, biblical illiteracy abounds so that some people don’t even recognize the word of God when it is spoken, or believe that non-words of God are from Him when they’re not.

Philip asked the Eunuch if he understood what he was reading. This is the key thought in this essay today.

“Do you understand what you are reading?”

Manet, The Reader, 1851.

In today’s world, people don’t ask that. They ask, “How did you feel about what you read?” Or, “How did it make you feel?” It’s considered rude and intolerant to ask a person if they understand. The word for understand in the context used is from Strong’s word concordance, “I am taking in knowledge, come to know, learn; aor: I ascertained, realized.”

People get huffy if they’re asked if they understand. You can just see the reaction, either verbal or mental- “What do you mean, understand? I’m not an idiot. Maybe YOU don’t understand!”

In addition, look at the Eunuch’s reaction. Philip didn’t know the Eunuch. He didn’t work for several years to establish a relationship with the Eunuch before talking of Godly things. He didn’t seek to meet the Eunuch’s felt needs. He didn’t make the Eunuch comfortable. He didn’t give him a donut. He simply asked him if he understood it. The Eunuch’s reaction wasn’t huffy or prideful. The Eunuch responded humbly,

“How can I, unless someone guides me?”

Today’s Christianity is all about experience and feelings. This is thanks to Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, and Joel Osteen, among others in the purpose-driven, seeker sensitive, word/faith movements. Osteen in particular is known for what Osteen calls a ministry of encouragement, but unlike Barnabas’ ministry of encouragement in persevering the Lord through the scriptures, Osteen is simply in the pop psychology biz in making people feel good about themselves through the heart. Osteen doesn’t make people even feel good about Jesus, he strives to make people feel good about themselves, turning their mind away from Him and focusing their feelings on themselves.

The Eunuch provides a good example of a man humbly submitting to the Spirit. He admitted his biblical inexperience and his need for a teacher. He acted on his need by inviting Philip up to the chariot.

Understanding the scriptures always leads to a positive action, either obedience, or salvation, or witnessing (Woman at the Well) or ministry. In this case, we see that the Eunuch was baptized immediately.

Lambert Sustris (1515–1591) The Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch
by the Deacon Philip

The bible is replete with verses that tell us to learn with our mind. Our minds are being renewed, (Romans 12:2.) Difficulties in understanding parables such as in Matthew 13:11-13, and symbols, such as in Revelation 17:9, call for a mind with wisdom, says the verse. We need to understand with our mind, before we decide how we feel about it with our heart. And even at that juncture, feelings are often murky and misleading. Yet so many of today’s bible studies involve circumventing the mind and going straight to feelings, based on experience. And you see where that has gotten us.

The next time you’re in a bible study group, ask the question that Philip did, “Do you understand what you are reading?” If you don’t want to go that far, then ask “Do I understand what I am reading?” That’s a good question to ask anyway. Don’t let the discussion revolve around feelings launched by questions such as “How do you feel about that?” with responses given through personal experiences, therefore coming to a conclusion that is what the verse means.(I.E., ‘I experienced it, therefore it is true.’)

Luke 24:45 says that when Jesus appeared to His disciples post-crucifixion, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”. He called the men of Emmaus foolish and slow of heart for not understanding.

How you feel about what you read is of no real consequence. Feelings are temporal, ephemeral, and often faulty. Why, even God allows the wicked to rest in a feeling of security. (Job 24:23). The security they feel is unprofitable for them because it is a false feeling. Don’t trust feelings about scripture, but seek to know, to understand, to comprehend. Feelings aren’t bad, but we learn the word of God through our mind. It is study which renews your mind. After that, you gain more and more clarity.

We all have the same guide that the Eunuch had, and in fact that Philip had: the Holy Spirit. He guides us into all truth. (John 16:13). We must study personally and also study under a guide or a teacher or a pastor so the scriptures will become understandable to us. Do you understand what you are reading? Ask the Spirit to deliver wisdom to you, He will do so without reproach. (James 1:5).