The Holy Spirit's Role in Salvation
After the Cross (Pt. 1)
By William Handschumacher
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
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In this study we address some common misconceptions about the role of God's Holy Spirit and His place in authentic Christian salvation. Few of us are taught that the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is what validates the believer's salvation. When we “have the Holy Spirit” - we have salvation. However, when we don't have the Holy Spirit we don't have salvation - regardless of how hard we work to obtain it. The apostle Paul addresses this all-important subject by saying ...
"So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His (doesn't belong to God)"(Romans 8:8-9)
The phrase 'In the flesh' or ... 'walking according to the flesh’ is a term Saint Paul uses to describe those who seek to be righteous and obtain salvation the Old Testament way, through their own religious behavior and works ...
Instead of accepting the freely
imputed righteousness, apart
from their works, provided by
Christ's new and better covenant.
(Romans 4:4-8, Romans 5:15-21,
Titus 3:5-7 Hebrews 8:6-13)
Paul refers to those who base their faith on the New Covenant as being 'in the Spirit’ ... but also warns that those who try to obtain salvation through the efforts of the flesh (the Old Testament way) are not included in this group. Outwardly, they might appear to be committed Christians and model church members; but they do not possess true faith in Christ ... because their faith is based on something that God no longer honors. As a result, Paul warns that these well-intentioned individuals may not have the Spirit of Christ ... meaning that they might not belong to God. These are some of the most frightening words in the New Testament.
The phrase “having the Holy Spirit” can be confusing because of the revolutionary changes that occurred after Christ's sacrificial death. Under the administration of the New Covenant (that couldn't begin until after the cross) the Christian believer “has the Holy Spirit” in an entirely new and different way ... than those who lived under the previous Old Testament program of the Law.
A common, yet disastrous misconception
is thinking that the Holy Spirit operates
the same way after the cross - as He did
before the cross.
Christ's sacrificial death and the shedding
of His blood established a "New Covenant"
that forever changed the way God's Holy
Spirit relates with His people.
It’s absolutely crucial to
understand what this means.
Major Hindrances to Understanding
the Present-day Ministry of the
In the first century, Saint Paul warned about "a different gospel of Christ", which is an imitation or counterfeit of the authentic Gospel. A well-made counterfeit of anything is nearly indistinguishable from the original.
Here's the danger that most
professing Christians ignore:
God accepts the authentic...
but rejects the counterfeit.
The modern-day Christian Church is overrun with countless expressions of a "different gospel", which are actually spiritual counterfeits. Most of these doctrines are created by merging (or mixing) the Old Covenant program of the Law - with the New Covenant of Christ established on Grace. In other words, they illegally mix Law and Grace together. Many church leaders and their followers (but thankfully not all) often embrace this kind of theology because they view the Bible as a single book with only one message. As a result of this 'one message' view, they believe that Christ's New Testament program (also called the New Covenant) is just an extension or continuation of the Old Testament law-based program. This popular practice of merging or mixing two different covenant programs together creates a misleading man-made theology. Unfortunately, this is how a vast majority of the Christian Church views and interprets the Bible. It is found in Roman Catholicism - and the Protestant doctrines of Reformed theology, Holiness theology, Calvinism - and all of the countless offshoots of these beliefs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In a very general sense, it is correct the say that the Bible, as a whole, reveals God's entire plan of salvation through Christ. However, over the last six thousand years of human history, God chose to reveal and release His plan in two stages ... through two different (and separate) sets of covenant laws, which are directed at two different groups of people. Saint Paul referred to these covenants as: 'The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus' (the New Covenant) and ... 'The law of sin and death' (or the Mosaic Covenant of the Old Testament - also referred to in Scripture as just 'The Law').
In Romans 8:1-4, Paul made the following
statement concerning these two major sets
of covenant laws found in the Bible:
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (or imputed to us) who do not walk according to the flesh (or trying to qualify/earn salvation through works or religious merit) but according to the Spirit (or our faith in the finished work of Christ that does not require our works)."
Here's the problem:
If the 'law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus' sets us free from 'the law of sin and death' ... then it is illegal to mix them together (or combine them) into 'one message and one law'. Yet, this is how many Christians are taught to interpret the Bible.
In addition to Paul's statement in Romans 8:1-4, we provide additional Scriptural evidence as to why this popular method of interpreting the Scriptures lead many astray in their faith, often without their knowledge.
How to Identify this Toxic
Brand of Christian Faith
As previously stated, those who
erroneously interpret the Bible
as 'a single book with only one
message and one combined set of
laws'; must also treat the New
Testament (and Christ's New
Covenant) as an extension or
continuation of the Old Testament
(or Old Covenant) program - rather
that an entirely new and separate
program as revealed in the New
As a result, those who embrace
this popular brand of theology
often base their faith on the
following six misconceptions:
God's Grace must be accompanied by
obedience to the Old Testament Mosaic
Law (specifically the Ten Commandments)
in order to obtain true salvation...
because the New Testament is just
a 'continuation' of the Old.
God's treatment of sin and the sinner
remains essentially the same after the
cross - as it was before the cross...
because the New Testament is just a
'continuation' of the Old.
Scripture can be arbitrarily lifted
from either the Old Testament or the
New Testament, in order to defend a
particular belief ... because the New
Testament is just a 'continuation'
of the Old.
What Saint Paul refers to as 'the Church'
in the New Testament - is now considered
to be "The New Israel". Therefore, as
obedience to God's commandments was the
way original Israel obtained salvation
in the Old Testament - the Church is
required to obtain salvation in much the
same way...because the New Testament is
just a 'continuation' of the Old.
The Holy Spirit continues to operate
the same way after the cross - as He
did before the cross ...because the
New Testament is just a 'continuation'
of the Old.
God expresses Grace in the same way
way after the cross - as He did before
the cross...because the New Testament
is just a 'continuation' of the Old.
There are many other characteristics
that time and space will not allow us
to address in this study. However, we
will soon discover why various Bible
scholars refer to these six
misconceptions as representing a
brand of theology often called ...
Galatian Religion, the
Galatian Error--and its
dangerous yet popular
close relative known as
A more thorough discussion of
this belief is available
at the following link:
Avoiding the Error of
Since Galatian Religion and
Replacement Theology are so
closely related, we will only
refer to Galatian Religion
(or Galatianism) in the
the remainder of this study.
It's important to understand that both Galatian religion and Replacement theology are derived from the Holy Scriptures, which is declared to be "God's Word". Many church leaders and their followers believe this to be the only qualification that must be satisfied in order for a doctrine to qualify as 'Divine truth'. It also explains why Galatianism was eagerly adopted by various mainline denominations, where it enjoys wide-spread acceptance throughout Christendom. Due to its correlation with Scripture, some refer to Galatian religion as; 'Biblical Christianity or Historical Christianity'. In the paragraphs that follow, we will see why these popular names and labels are deceptive.
A growing number of Bible scholars
are now warning the Church that
Galatianism's popularity is actually
based on a dangerous misconception.
For any theology, doctrine or
teaching to be considered 'Divine
It must satisfy at least two
qualifications - not just one.
It must be recorded in the
official 'canon' of Scripture.
It must be taught and kept
within the original context
where God placed it. Saint
Paul referred to this respect
for the Bible's context as...
'Rightly dividing the Word.'
(2 Timothy 2:15)
Many of us are aware of dishonest journalists who are caught quoting politicians and other information sources 'out-of-context'. Most of their audience fails to notice the distortion, which is why it's so effective. As a result, the strategy has been used (and despised) throughout human history as an effective tool to manipulate public opinion. The problem here is obvious.
If anyone is quoted 'out-of-context'
then they didn't really say what
The same is true of God's Word.
You can use it to quote what God
says about any Biblical topic.
However, if you lift His words
from their intended context, and
reinsert them into a context of
your own design (in order to
defend your doctrine) - you are
not quoting what God actually
said. You're attempting to make
God say what you want Him to say
as a way to persuade your
As a result, God's words and commands are often used 'out-of-context' to validate a teaching that's contrary to His intentions. Unfortunately, these practices have existed within the Christian Church since the first century. In this study readers may be shocked to discover that those who support Galatian religion (and its countless variants) - use this same method as a way to make it appear that God says things ... that He does not say.
We are not suggesting that church
leaders are being dishonest when
they quote God out-of-context.
We have never met one minister who
was deliberately trying to deceive
The problem is caused by the way they were taught to interpret the Scriptures ... possibly in seminary. Many were taught to ignore or reject Saint Paul's command to 'rightly divide the Word' (or to respect the context of the Bible). As a result, they view the Scriptures as one continuous and uniform program of faith, where context is often ignored. However, Old Testament faith connected to Judaism - and New Testament faith in Christ are radically different (similar to oil and water) ... and can never be mixed. As a result, the Bible warns that handling its teachings as 'one continuous uniform message' perverts the Gospel of Christ and leads many dangerously astray in their faith.
The deceptive nature of Galatian
religion involves its abuse of
Scriptural context. It takes rules
and principles that were only
meant to operate under Old
Testament Law - and makes them
binding upon the New Testament
Church (now considered to be
'The New Israel'). This causes
Christ's salvation to be illegally
dependent on both Law and Grace,
which ignores the warning given in
Galatian religion is a counterfeit or
'religious imitation' of Christianity
that God does not honor. It has been
in existence since the first century...
so it's not new. As a result, what much
(but thankfully not all) of the modern-
day Christian Church believes to be
authentic Christianity is actually...
The apostolic leadership of the first century church, led by James our Lord's half-brother, met in Jerusalem and condemned this same doctrine in Acts chapter 15. Theologians often refer to this meeting as "The first Jerusalem Apostolic Council". However, their official ruling failed to stop its progress. Later, the same teaching resurfaced and nearly destroyed an entire congregation under Paul's care. As a result, Paul wrote his 'Epistle to the Galatians' in order to address the danger. This is where 'Galatian religion or the Galatian error' originally got its name.
Galatian Religion is a
In order to provide different viewpoints, we sometimes include a quotation from C.I. Scofield, who was the architect of the popular 'Scofield Reference Bible' - and speaks a sober warning to the church. We are not necessarily students of Scofield. Yet, we find that his writings reinforce the subject of this Bible study.
“Most of us have been reared and now live under the influence of Galatianism. Protestant theology is for the most part thoroughly Galatianized, in that neither the law or grace is given its distinct and separate place as in the counsels of God, but they are mingled together in one incoherent system. The law is no longer, as in the divine intent, a ministration of death (2 Cor. 3:7), of cursing (Gal. 3:10), or conviction (Rom. 3:19), because we are taught that we must try to keep it, and that by divine help we may. Nor does grace, on the other hand, bring us blessed deliverance from the dominion of sin, for we are kept under the law as a rule of life despite the plain declaration of Romans 6:14.”
“In contrast to Reformed theology is Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism says that to find the believer’s rule of life you must go not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Calvary. Mount Sinai is powerless to justify a person and Mount Sinai is also powerless to sanctify a person. The law is not the believer’s rule of life. Something else is. The Scofield Bible states this position very clearly: "The test of the gospel is grace. If the message excludes grace, or mingles Law with grace as the means of justification or sanctification, or denies the fact or guilt of sin which alone gives Grace its occasion and opportunity, it is ‘another’ gospel, and the preacher of it is under the anathema of God.”
Taken From "Footnote #6" in the Scofield
Reference Bible under Galatians 1:6.
Important Note: Reformed theology, Holiness theology, Calvinism and various brands of fundamentalism are all different denominational variants of the Galatian error.
Scofield uses the modern theological term “dispensationalism” - which carries the same meaning and intent as Paul's command to “rightly divide God's Word”. Both of these terms warn all students of the Bible that they must obey and respect the context of Scripture. Otherwise, an incorrect understanding of God's Word and Christ's salvation will result.
We should not make the mistake of thinking that Scofield is just offering us his own personal beliefs concerning this problem. He is citing the Apostle Paul, who uses the word "accursed" when describing the misleading Biblical message of these Galatianized preachers (Galatians 1:6-8). The word 'accursed' suggests a type of ‘Divine rejection’ that falls upon these unsuspecting ministers (and their followers who spread the same message). They are preaching what some passionately like to call “the uncompromised Word of God”. However, when the word 'uncompromised' is used to describe their brand of Bible teaching, it sounds good, but often means something totally different than what their listening audience thinks.
This is what they are not being told:
The preacher is refusing to “rightly divide” God’s Word (as Paul commanded in 2 Timothy 2:15) and teaching it “undivided” ... or “uncompromised” as some like to say.
When Scripture is interpreted and taught “undivided” - the difficult-to-satisfy (and in many cases 'impossible to satisfy') requirements of Old Testament Law are illegally mixed with the New Testament Grace of Christ. These additional 'difficult or impossible to satisfy' behavioral requirements, usually based on the Ten Commandments, are then applied to obtaining (and keeping) salvation. As a result, salvation (eternal life) - paid for by the blood of Christ at the cross - is changed from a gift that God gives freely according to Grace (or His unmerited and undeserved favor) - into a benefit that must be earned through proper behavior, personal merit and good works. This means salvation becomes 'conditional' - and is therefore no longer a gift. It is this counterfeit merit-based evangelistic message that supporters are proudly calling 'uncompromised' ... because they have convinced themselves that true salvation can only be received when righteous works and personal merit are added. Yet, in our writings we use the word 'illegal' to describe this popular brand of evangelism ... because God warns against handling the Scriptures in such a dishonest and misleading way.
Those who reject Saint Paul's command to "rightly divide the Word" often attack God’s Grace by calling it the sugar-coated gospel, easy believism or “greasy grace”. Red flags should go up when we hear these common phrases in a sermon. On his daily radio program, one angry fundamentalist preacher claimed that those who preach salvation as God's free gift (or salvation available by grace as taught in Ephesians 2:4-9) - are members of "the Grace cult" and suggested they were "of the devil". It is for these reasons that our commentaries and studies attempt to expose this popular yet dangerous theology, which has dominated the Christian Church in various ways since its birth in the first century. It nearly destroyed the Galatian Church and motivated Saint Paul, who wrote nearly half of the New Testament canon, to both refute and publicly condemn this counterfeit Bible teaching for the remainder of his life.
By performing a close examination of Paul's writings, we discover that the Galatian Church had embraced a 'different gospel of Christ' consisting of a mixture of Old Testament Law and New Testament Grace. In addition to the Galatian error, some theologians refer to it as 'meritorious salvation' (a conditional salvation obtained through both grace and personal merit). It is similar to the salvation doctrine taught in many churches today. This illegal and confusing mixture of 'works and Grace' is then applied to the way salvation is obtained (and kept) - and leads listeners astray in their faith without their knowledge.
Those who embrace this 'mixed
gospel message' often ignore
Paul's warning - that works and
grace are mutually exclusive.
Speaking to the Roman Church
about our Grace-based salvation,
Paul warns ...
"And if by Grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." (Romans 11:6)
What Paul says here is important
because Ephesians 2:8-9 warns
that, after the cross, true
salvation only comes by Grace.
The Bible Exposes the Error
of Galatian Religion
In contrast, the Bible warns that it generally consists of two major covenants (the Mosaic covenant and the New Covenant of Christ) ... where each is governed by a radically different set of principles and rules (Read Galatians 4:21-31). As a result, if these two different covenants are mixed together - it creates a dangerous heresy that leads many astray in their faith. This is why the Bible translators inserted special title pages (which were not included in the original manuscripts) ... that separates Scripture into its two major components; the Old and New Testaments (or the Old and New Covenants). Once again, Saint Paul refers to this practice of keeping the Holy Scriptures separated as; 'rightly dividing the Word".
"Be diligent to present yourself approved of God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly (or correctly) dividing the Word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
It is important to understand that the
Bible consists of these two major
covenants ... which are separated by
the cross. As a result, the Holy
Spirit operates in a totally different
way under the New Covenant, which
began after Christ's sacrificial death
and the day of Pentecost; as recorded
in Acts chapter 2.
Jesus Provides a Stunning
Preview of the Holy Spirit's
"And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the helper (the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of mine and declare it to you. A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father." (John 16:4-16)
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:16-17 Also read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 John 4:4)
In these Scriptures, Jesus is telling
His disciples about two periods of time
and the different administrations they
The first involved the time
period they were living in before
the cross, which operated under
the authority of Old Testament Law
The second involves a future
time following the cross which
operates under the authority of the
Contrary to popular teaching, Christ's crucifixion represents a dividing line in God's Word between these two spiritual administrations (or covenants), where each are governed by different principles and rules. Let's look at a few of these principles that Jesus revealed in John chapter 14:
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall
give you another Comforter, that He may
abide with you for ever; even the Spirit
(This is a future characteristic of the
Holy Spirit's ministry that would begin
after the cross and the day of Pentecost.)
"...but ye know him; for He (the Holy
Spirit) dwelleth with you".
(This was a characteristic of the Holy
Spirit's ministry that was in operation
before the cross.)
"...and shall be in you."
(This is a future characteristic of the
Holy Spirit's ministry that would begin
after the cross and the day of Pentecost
as recorded in Acts chapter 2)
In both of these time periods it could
be generally stated that all of God's
people "had the Holy Spirit".
The Old Testament group had the
Holy Spirit "dwelling with them".
But the New Testament group, living
after the cross and the day of
Had the the Holy Spirit
"dwelling in them."
It was the same Holy Spirit - but where He dwells is different ... which was determined by the covenant operating at the time. If the Holy Spirit dwelled in them before the cross (as some church leaders claim), the words Jesus spoke in John 14:16-17 makes no sense. Why would Jesus say these things if nothing changed? Yet, after the cross everything changed. The phrase "shall be in you" points to a time in the future where the Holy Spirit's role and ministry will be radically different.
The Bible calls these two administrations, "The Old Covenant (or first covenant)", which governed in the Old Testament before the cross ... and "Christ's New Covenant (or second covenant)" which governed during the New Testament after the cross. Concerning these two administrations, the book of Hebrews reveals:
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus) is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second." (Hebrews 8:6-7)
"In that He (Jesus Christ) says, "a New Covenant", He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)
IMPORTANT: The first covenant - where the Holy Spirit dwells "with you" - is being replaced (not continued) with a second covenant, which is a better covenant established on better promises ...
Where the Holy Spirit dwells in you.
But, there's one more reason the
second covenant is better ...
Jesus said that when the Holy
Spirit comes to dwell 'in you'
under His new and better
He Stays Forever.
Under the previous Old Testament program of the Law - where the Holy Spirit "dwelled with you" - there was no guarantee that He would remain. Rather, He would often leave if that individual continued to sin. This was how the Holy Spirit functioned before Jesus died on the cross to take away our sin.
This is why King David, after his
grievous sin with Bathsheba, tearfully
pleaded with the Lord; "...take not
Thy Holy Spirit from me".
Why did David pray this way? He lived
before the cross where The Holy Spirit
could depart from him ... as He did when
his predecessor, King Saul, sinned
against the Lord.
However, contrary to popular Galatianized
church teachings, the Holy Spirit no
longer operates this way after the cross.
Under the better promises of Christ's New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6-13), sin no longer has the power to compel the indwelling Holy Spirit to leave. Why? Christ's New Covenant - that began after the cross - permanently removes sin's power and authority to condemn us (which is also the power to revoke salvation).
This amazing truth is revealed in
the following Scriptures ...
"For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible)
"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law (the now obsolete Old Covenant program) but under Grace (Christ's New Covenant program)." (Romans 6:14)
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (the New Covenant program) has made me free from the law of sin and death (the Old Covenant program)." (Romans 8:1-2)
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)
A Revolutionary New
Temple of God
In the days of the Old Covenant, the temple of God was a physical building that held the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was the center for Jewish religion and worship in Israel. However, all of this changed under Christ's New Covenant that started after the cross and the day of Pentecost. God's temple is now the body of the believer that contains the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Once again, notice the major change in the Holy Spirit's ministry. These are incredible truths that tend to lose their significance under the influence of Galatian religion.
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (Words of Paul after the Holy Spirit arrived on Pentecost from 1 Cor. 3:16-17)
"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
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the next part.
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