Fall 2017: Thanks for coming to my site and possibly hanging in with me to review the three questions I have presented in my essays and tweets: How did 12 ragtag apostles of Jesus in 74 AD not only stand down the Roman Empire but establish Protestant Christianity as the dominant personal, social, cultural and literary force for next 2000 years? In The Parable of the Messiah Scrolls I show the first generation of Christians arguing passionately about two follow on questions, “How can we come to know God and His Will, help form His discipling community and specifically activate His missional charge to us?" "How does our zeal in Holy Spirit powered prayer gives us glimpses into mind of God & His concerns for the establishment of His church community?" Such inquiries as these remain at the center of Christian dialogue today.
Without spoiling the ending of the novel: Beginning with Abraham and culminating with Jesus Christ, the first Christians find that the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit leads them to the knowledge and will they seek. My story is based on the Scriptural truth of the New Testament, and it shows the faith process of being Holy Spirit led in coming to know God and His Community - a faith process that is used by believers today. the Messiah Scrolls online, first century church origins historical novel, including formation of original missional and justice issues to arise in a church setting, hosted on this web site.
While my novel is first century historical fiction, from here onward, everything I am about to share is emphatically non fiction.
Many of today's discussions about whether we Christians should be justice/missional or evangelistic/discipling can be leapfrogged by recognizing that when faith-on-fire, Holy Spirit-led believers gather for Eucharist based worship, justice based mission projects, disciple training conferences or church plants, those works become transformed ventures for Christ per se.
The Lord does not find us fit but makes us fit (Calvin). The faith-activating Presence of the Holy Spirit within each believer makes us fit and brings about his or her spiritual formation, which in turn inspires God's will within each believer e.g., as part of active missional and/or active discipling and/or planting sub-culture, demonstrating our collective faith in Christ as a church. (I've also written about this in "Christ Culture".)
How does this will providing, Holy Spirit work within each believer?
First, faith in Christ activates the Presence of the Holy Spirit within each Jesus Follower, which in turn reveals God's will to each Follower within their profoundly personally acquired knowledge of the God of the Old and New Testaments. Protestant Evangelical churches, principally Megachurches, recognizing Apostolic Authority, who correctly train disciples in the Testaments in order to be guided to the will of God comprise, become the driving force of Christianity in our time. See How 21st Century MegaChurches Energize Believers And Assume Apostolic Authority:
Furthermore, the faith of Protestant Evangelicals today underscores the importance of the Old Testament and the restoration of Israel. The Presence of the Holy Spirit opens to Followers the full meaning of the relationship between the God of the Old Testament and his Followers, and how this is applicable to their own lives. In the Old Testament, when Followers failed to live according to His wishes, Father God sanctioned these Followers, yet always preserving a remnant so that the next generation could try again to walk in His will. Some like Abraham, were directly "accredited righteous" (the Old Testament equivalent of New Testament faith).
The faith-activated Presence of the Holy Spirit, particularly within several mega-church pastors, elders and lay leaders today provides this same power to know the will of God by knowing His story, giving resources to us in the 21st century as He did to Adam & Eve, Abraham & Sarah, Moses & Zippo’rah, Joseph & As’serah, David & Bathsheba, Hosea & Gomer, Esther & Mor’decai, and Joseph & Mary, the earthly parents of Jesus.
In other words, several Protestant Evangelical mega-churches' are "given" the clear authority of the faith-activating Presence of the Holy Spirit, making members fit to receive interpretation of the entire body of the Old and New Testaments. (Here I am explicitly rejecting the term "Biblicist", a pejorative name given to Protestant Evangelical scriptural interpretation by some social scientists; or at least, I am rejecting its pejorative sense). The absentee grafting of Catholic and Mormon scholarship onto (and by) Social Scientists in forming its Biblicist claim, is an attempt to isolate and discredit the Holy Spirit-inspired interpretation of Scripture by Protestant Evangelicals, who prayerfully also seek the Holy Spirit's guidance in countering such claims.
Secondly, first century disciples understood the will of God by knowing Him personally and entered into faith directly, as Jesus personally confirmed Father God’s original desire for a covenant with His earthly created humans. Jesus, both earthly human and divine Son of God, told His disciples that He was the witness and reconciler to that Covenant relationship, which included, to the joy of the disciples then and us modern Followers today, life after physical death: Eternal Life for His Followers within the Kingdom of God in Heaven.
As Apostle John wrote so elegantly:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of Grace and Truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father..."
"All that the Father"gives" me will come to me; and him (or her) who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from Heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has "given" Me ... If you love me you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will"give" you allos paraklatos, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither knows Him nor sees him; you know Him, for he dwells in you, and (His will) will be with you ... Father the hour has come; glorify the Son that the son may glorify Thee, since Thou has given Him power over all flesh, to "give" eternal life to all whom Thou has "given"..."
"...from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth ... Come up hither and I will show you what must take place after this ... Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His Covenant was seen within the temple ... behold a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True ... He is clad in a robe dipped in blood ... He is called the Word of God ... Then I saw a new heaven and new earth ... And I saw no temple in the city, for the temple is the Lord God the Almighty ... and his (Follower) servants shall worship Him; they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads ... and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
This is how Jesus Followers, then and now, possess community and possess knowledge of the will of God: not by the musing of philosophers as if we were Balaam type prophets of this world hired to define what God is and is not; and not by the grasping of reason like Korah who despised spiritual authority, but embracing the spiritual authority we learn from the Testaments, and, then, in humility not arrogance, enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the faith -activated Presence of His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, now and forever. Amen
Exegesis: The Role of the Faith-Activating Presence of the Holy Spirit in forming community and in Knowing God
John 14:16 (as noted above) describes the origin of the Holy Spirit. In the upper room, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will "give" you another Helper...” [In Greek "another helper" is allos paraklatos, a combined supernatural power (God the Father and God the Son) which comes alongside and indwells the human believer, who has been given (John 6:37-39) by God the Father and drawn to faith in Jesus Christ (John 6:44). The indwelling of the Counselor within each believer is what I call the "faith-activating Presence of the Holy Spirit," guiding Protestant Evangelicals, in forming community and in gaining their knowledge of the will of God, having guided their interpretation of the Old and New Testaments.
In John 14:26 the term "helper" is equated specifically with the term "Holy Spirit". In addition to helper, the Greek could also mean "comforter" or "advocate": one who pleads another’s unique case against the world-wise. Note that the Greek adjective modifying "helper" is not heteros [meaning different] but allos [meaning exactly the same].
As Protestant Evangelicals we welcome "the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my Name, he will teach you all things, and bring to remembrance all that I have said to you." According to Protestant Evangelicals, all believers are given the same remembrance, along with certain gifts (see 1st Corinthians 12:27-31) that allow them to express this "same remembrance" from the context of their gift and role in the Christian community. Within this context, it is possible to have singular interpretations (differences in degree) but not plural interpretations (differences in kind) as claimed by critics outside this tradition. Viewed in this clear sense, Evangelicals, as the Reformers called them, are not as scattered in their interpretations and authority as critics suggest.
Viewing this "same remembrance" as a church father, paraphrasing Tertullian*: the Holy Spirit, being the same substance of Jesus and the Father, destined to take equal place with Jesus and the Father, within each unique believer (after Jesus’ ascension to the Father), is given for the purpose of providing divine guidance and power to each unique believer. “...that [completing 14:16] He may be with you forever.” The Holy Spirit indwells forever giving each believer the same interpretative resources needed to undergo the world’s trials and evils until joined with Father, Son and Holy Spirit in heavenly Eternal Life (John 17:1-3).
*(160 – 220 AD, a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa)
To repeat my tweet on 6/30/2012, 5/11/2012 and 5/9/2013: "Our #zeal in #Holy #Spirit powered #prayer gives us glimpses into the #mind of #God. There is a #gift there. We must #claim it." Sadly, a Jesus Follower lacking zeal (Romans 12:11-12), not being supernaturally guided by their indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, is like possessing an unredeemed gift card.
In this web-novel I invite you to witness and join the faithful first disciples, Apostle John, Tertius Falcon X, Lydia of Thyatira, Luke of Macedonia, Shiraz of Dilmun, John Mark, Geber'im Prime, and Apollos of Alexandria as, empowered by zeal in Holy-Spirit-powered lives, they missionally establish the original Christian Community Zero. (Chapter titles are listed here; to read six chapters of the book, register for a free preview.)
Prayerfully, the Holy Spirit powered goal is for the Parable of the Messiah Scrolls to embed the Truth of Scripture within an historical, fictional epic; to show how biblical fact and imaginative prose can infuse meaning into intuitional remembrances and resemblances in the minds and souls of on-line readers, both of faith and non-faith. I attempt to show the first Apostles recording and canonizing Scriptures and at the same time disciples and followers faithfully applying them in their daily lives to transform their world. My hope is that witnessing, discussing and annotating this story may help Christian readers to stake or re-stake praxis in the gifted use of Holy Scripture in understanding that Christian community can be real in the progressive revelation of God's will in their own lives. Your input appreciated; either through twitter @MessiahScrolls hashtag #ChristCulture or email me directly.
Blessings in Christ,
Messiah Scrolls Web-Books