BIBLICAL STUDIES

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WILLARD CANTELON
For many years Willard Cantelon was known and loved as a lecturer and author on the subject of the Holy Spirit as presented in the Scriptures. The Gift of God represents a compilation of his short works on this subject, combined with marginal notes and commentary.

Willard Cantelon quotes Yale theologian, Kenneth Scott Latourette, in his introduction to The Gift of God.

“From discouraged, disillusioned men and women who sadly looked back upon the days when they had hoped that Jesus would become the new world leader, they were made over into a company of enthusiastic witnesses, adding to their numbers other Jews, Romans, Greeks, Ephesians, the educated, and the slave. Like other men and women, these remained human. Yet within them burned a power and life which came through Jesus by the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and this power worked moral and spiritual transformation within them. That power proved contagious, even as it does today.”


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THE GIFT of GOD part two
Willard Cantelon, sketch by David Goatley

GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL YOU DO

THE WILL OF HIM THAT SENT ME
When Jesus first began to teach and evangelize, he would often remind his listeners that he had come, not to burden them with following his own earthly schemes, but with a specific and purposeful plan that originated from his Father in heaven. He referred to this as the will of his Father, saying,

I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me. (John 6:38)

Jesus had come with a new way of thinking about God and how to worship and know him. His message was of heavenly origin, as he instructed them,

You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world. (John 8:23)

The humility of Christ is ever-present throughout scriptures. Jesus truly lived as the incarnate son of God, and yet as a man. He was capable of great manifestations of God's power, yet he was committed to a human walk that demanded suffering and solitude. Of this truth, the apostle Paul writes,

He made himself of no reputation. He took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:7)

Consider his travels in Samaria. As a human man, Jesus sat wearily by the wayside well at Sychar. As God, however, he was able to look within the life of the woman who approached the well. As God, he had the power to give her the living water to satisfy the thirstingof her soul. This leads us to these parallel examples:

As man, we see Jesus sleeping wearily in the back of the fishing boat on a storm-tossed Sea of Galilee. Moments later, as God, Jesus rebukes the raging tempest, saying,

Peace, be still,...and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26)

As man Jesus stood mourning by the tomb of his dear friend Lazarus. Tears coursed down his sunburned cheeks. But then, as God, Jesus commanded the corpse,

Lazarus, come forth...and he came forth. (John 11:43, 44)

The point of these examples is critical to our understanding the nature of the Holy Spirit and how it impacts our lives. Jesus ministered personally in the power of the Spirit, and yet, as is seen clearly in the chronology of the New Testament writings, he was limited to moving and working in one place at one time. In fact, when the crowd asked him to remain with them, Jesus refused, saying,

Let us go somewhere else---to the nearby villages . . . so I can preach there as well. (Mark 1:38)

In spite of these limitations, Jesus told his disciples that,

This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations. (Matthew 24:14)

Jesus personally could not take the gospel to all nations. But his disciples certainly could, perhaps not in their generation, but in generations to come. Jesus told his followers, speaking prophetically as well as by mandate,

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Having depended on the Holy Spirit to consecrate and empower his own ministry, Jesus certainly did not expect his followers to carry on his mission in their own strength. And yet the time of his departure from this world was approaching. Unquestionably, the disciples must have discussed the future among themselves. Would Christ remain with them forever? How could they fulfill his work if he was not there to oversee it?

When finally the time came for Jesus to leave this earth, he gave them the answer to this question. He told his disciples that he would send to them the Holy Spirit. They would not be left alone in their effort to follow the words of and teachings of Jesus. Nor would they be on their own as they witnessed of Jesus to the four corners of the world. Jesus said,

Now I am going to him who sent me . . . It is for your good that I am going away. For, unless I go away, the Counselor , or Holy Spirit, will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to dwell among you. (John 16:5, 7)


REVEALING THE NEED IN OUR LIVES
Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit's first works would be to convict men and women of what was wrong in their lives, revealing to their hearts that Jesus Christ was in fact their Savior. The Holy Spirit would draw men and women to the words and message of Jesus, filling their hearts with the fullness of God's presence and joy, indicating to them that they had been born of the Spirit. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit,

He will not speak on his own. He will bring glory to me. (John 16:13, 14)

Before Jesus was born, an angel was sent to announce his birth. This angel declared,

You are to give him the name of Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

But before men or women can truly repent of their sins, they must first realize that they are separated from a life in God because of sin. To our own minds, our lives might seem above reproach. We might perceive "sin" as a negative way of thinking. Solomon wrote in his collection of proverbs,

All of our ways seem innocent to our own eyes... (Proverbs 16:2)

Jesus did not come into the world to bring condemnation, or to judge how far beneath God's mark humankind had fallen. But Jesus did come to make us aware of our need for spiritual transformation. Few today would argue that our societies are in need of some kind of healing. Thus, the Holy Spirit was sent by Christ to magnify our need of Christ and redemption. The scriptures instruct us that this is one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, Jesus said when he sent the Holy Spirit . . .

He will convict the world of guilt and sin. (John 16:8)

When the Holy Spirit convicts a sinner of sin, that person is not aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. He or she only knows that, in the sight of God, they have sinned and failed to follow God's commandments. Just a few hours before, they might have felt self-righteous and more spiritual than their neighbors or friends. Now, under the full examination that only the Holy Spirit can conduct, the distance between themselves and God seems great and immeasurable.


REVEALING CHRIST
Thank God, the Holy Spirit does not leave us in such a condition! Our hearts would surely break realizing that our sins had so thoroughly separated us from the divine presence. Mercifully, the Holy Spirit never probes or troubles our hearts without offering the solution near at hand. So it is, that after causing us to realize how far we have fallen from God's way, the Holy Spirit reveals the promise of Christ to our hearts. This indeed is the "Good News" of which the early Christian believers spoke.

Peter, the disciple of Jesus, had his own spiritual eyes opened to this truth. From being a self-absorbed man, he suddenly recognized in Jesus the unspoken desire of his heart. Turning to Jesus, he declared,

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)

To this statement, Jesus replied,

Blessed are you Peter...for this truth was not revealed to you by man. (Matthew 16:17)

Paul the apostle would add,

No person can say, Jesus is Lord, except by the (revelation of the) Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)


DRAWING MEN AND WOMEN TO CHRIST
After the Holy Spirit shows us the sad reality of sin in our lives, he then makes known Christ to us as our Savior. The third aspect of his ministry is to draw us to Christ. Jesus said,

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44)

Speaking pictorially, Jesus described himself as a guest standing outside a closed door, knocking. He is calling to anyone who will listen on the other side,

Here I am! I am standing at the door (of your heart) and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in. (Revelation 3:20)

Years later, John writes:

To all who received him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

Octavio Paz, the great Mexican poet, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990, wrote a book titled, The Labyrinth of Solitude. He described modern men and women as being lost in a maze of loneliness and despair.

How contrasting is the image of the heart that has turned towards the warmth of Christ's embrace. Past days of loneliness and spiritual frustration are ended. the work of the Spirit having drawn us into a new communion, or communication, with God. Where once our lives might have been barren, there is now a new way of peace and company. Likening our hearts to a home, Jesus said,

Now (because of the work of redemption) my Father will love you...and we will come (Christ and God the Father) and dwell with you, and make our home with you... (John 14:32)

turn to part three of Willard Cantelon's The Gift of God



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