Question: Does God remove the Holy Spirit from a believer today?

Does God remove the Holy Spirit from a believer today?

The above question is part of a larger set of questions: Why did the Holy Spirit leave King Saul in the OT? Why did David pray that the Spirit would not leave him after a serious sin? Is there application there for believers today or is this only something that was an issue during their dispensation? Does this relate to losing your salvation in any way in our dispensation? I wonder why God would remove his Holy Spirit (that I would assume was saving/sealing him), but would not do that to a believer today that sinned to the point that Saul did.

This is a difficult set of questions and should not be dealt with superficially.  Consequently, I’ll give a little background and then answer the question.  I refer you to three posts made previously on August 14,15 and 17, 2012 in this site.  These will provide additional background that will be helpful.  As the writer to the Hebrew says,

13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
 14But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:13-14)

            God created man to resolve the Angelic Conflict.  God cast Satan down on the earth when he sinned (Ezek. 28:15) and Satan took one third of the angels with him (Rev. 12:4).  Satan destroyed the earth (void and without form, Gen. 1:2), and God recreated the earth placing man on earth to show that only when the creature is dependent on the Creator, would there be harmony and blessing.  There can be only one will (Luke 22:42), the Sovereign Creator’s, and any will contrary to God’s will results in destruction and misery (1 Thes. 1:7-9).

            This is a Classical Dispensational approach to human history to show that the creature continues to defy the Creator regardless of the promises, laws and provisions the Lord makes for man.  However, when man humbles himself before the Creator and depends on the Creator, then there is redemption and great blessing (1 Pet. 5:5). Thus God revealed specific dispensations, from God’s perspective, to reveal what is required for the creature to walk in harmony and blessing with God.

            David lived during the Jewish Age.  That is the time of Abraham through the time of Christ.  God provided promises called covenants to Abraham and David (Gen. 12:1-3; 2 Sam. 7:12-16).  Additionally, there were the Palestinian and New Covenants given (Deut. 30:1-12; Jer. 31:31-34) to help Israel trust God and enjoy His blessing. These were all unconditional covenants that depend only on God and will be fulfilled at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.  The Mosaic Law (or Covenant) was a conditional covenant and designed as a system that made Israel separate from the rest of the world as God’s people, but also to lead people to Christ (Gal. 3:24).

            During the Jewish Age, the Holy Spirit “endued” or “clothed” certain individuals.  The enduement was not for saving or sealing, but for specific operational or experiential power in God’s plan. For example, the Holy Spirit worked through Joseph as prime minister in Egypt (Gen. 41:38). Artisans, who worked on the tabernacle, were endued by the Holy Spirit (Ex. 28:3; 31:3).  God took from Moses and “put the [Holy Spirit] upon them” for administrative purposes (Num. 11:17,25).  Joshua, as a political and military leader, was given the Spirit (Num. 27:18). Certain judges were given the Spirit (Othniel – Judg. 3:9-10); Gideon – Judg. 6:34; Jephthah – Judg. 11:29; and Samson – Judg. 13:24,25; 14:5-6; 15:14).  There were some kings who were given the Spirit (1 Sam. 10:9-10; 16:13). And certain post-exilic rulers were given the Spirit (Zech. 4:3,12-14).

            However, the Spirit may only be present for a short time.  The Holy Spirit could be removed as God sovereignly determined.  For example, the Holy Spirit could be removed as divine discipline, as in the case of King Saul (1 Sam. 16:14) and from David (Ps. 51:11).

            A person in the Jewish Age could request the Holy Spirit (2 Kings 2: 9-10; Luke 11:13).  And Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples to sustain them just before the ascension during the ten day period until the Day of Pentecost (John 20:22).

            This is in contrast to the Church Age ministry of the Holy Spirit.  In the Church Age, the time from Pentecost to the Rapture of the Church, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer (Rom. 8:9).  However, not every believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, that is, empowered or controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Paul commands the Church Age believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18).  There is never a command to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit – it is a reality.  The filling command exists, because when the believer sins, the filling ceases and the believer must  repent, confess his sins and depend again on the Holy Spirit through filling (2 Cor. 7:9-11; 1 John 1:9; Eph. 5:18).

            So, let me go back to the questions in the beginning.  The Holy Spirit left King Saul, because Saul rebelled against the Lord (1 Sam. 15: 22-23).  God removed His blessing from Saul.  God gave blessing to David to prepare him to be king.  David prayed that God not take the Holy Spirit, because David had just committed adultery and murdered Uriah the Hittite (Ps. 51:11).  David knew God could remove the Holy Spirit from his life.

            There is tremendous application for the believer today.  Today, the believer will always be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit establishes the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit for Jesus Christ to dwell (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  Jesus said He indwells the believer and He must have the temple established (John 14:20; 17:21).  However, when the believer sins today, he loses the divine operational power in which to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  As long as a believer is filled with the Spirit, he will not sin (Gal. 5:16)  Have you ever wondered why Christians can be nice sometimes and horrible at other times?  They are not filled with the Spirit, even though they may be genuine believers.

            Removal of the power of the Holy Spirit, in no way causes a believer to lose his salvation.  Salvation is maintained by the shed blood of Jesus.  There are many other issues to consider in eternal security (see the post made on May 18, 2013, Is suicide the unpardonable sin?). 

            God removed the Holy Spirit from King Saul, but he was still a believer and he will be in heaven.  King Saul died a horrible death (1 Sam. 30), because he went down the downward spiral into the Sin unto Death (1 Sam. 30; Eph. 4:17-19; 1 John 5:16).  It is only in this life that a believer can suffer.  After death, there is no more sorrow and no more tears, because the old things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).  God does not remove the indwelling of the Holy Spirit today, but the believer can go through the downward spiral (Eph. 4:17-19) and end up in the Sin unto Death (1 Cor. 5:1-5; Jam. 5:19-20; 1 John 5:16).  He will be saved, yet through fire (1 Cor. 3:15).


These questions are very important in the interpretation of Scripture.  You will get one answer if you take a Literal Historico-grammatical approach to Scripture interpretation.  You will get a multitude of other answers with a number of other systems of interpretation.  The Literal Historico-grammatical approach to interpretation means that the Bible student will interpret Scripture literally in its natural sense, unless the passage is clearly describing a symbolic or hyperbole matter. It, “historic-,” means that Scripture must be interpreted in the time in which it was written according to the history, culture and environmental factors that influenced the writer.  And it, “grammatical,” means that Scripture must be interpreted according to the grammatical rules of writing of Hebrew, Chaldean and Greek languages.  This system will give a student the answer to many of his questions and why Classical Dispensationalism is the best approach to understand God’s sovereign plan and purpose as revealed in Scripture.



Explaining Divine History – Part 3

            I used to consider history dull and boring.  When I grew up, I realized how fascinating it is.  I also learned that the more I learn from history, I just MIGHT not repeat it.  How do you look at history?

            This short series, called “Explaining Divine History,” is seeking to establish fundamental truths in order to understand Divine History.  Part one stated that Salvation was, is and will always be the same.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).  For those who lived prior to Jesus Christ, it was the same, although they did not have the same revelation as we have in the completed canon of Scripture, so they trusted God in His revealed provision for redemption. 

Part two briefly described the biblical method of interpretation.  If you follow a “Literal Historico-grammatical” approach to biblical interpretation, you’ll establish one correct interpretation in the context of the entire Bible to harmonize all of Scripture.

      Part three isolates God’s promises to Israel.  In brief, we need to understand, “God’s promises to Israel were not merely nice words to make His people feel special, but unconditional, eternal and literal promises to the nation of Israel that have yet to be fulfilled.”  These promises were 1) unconditional covenants that depend on the integrity of God, not the fickleness of people.  What God said, He meant and He will ensure the covenants are fulfilled.  They are 2) eternal in that they are not subject to “the Old Testament period,” but now do not apply.  And they are 3) literal in that they will be literally fulfilled and we don’t need to spiritualize them to satisfy some narrow theological perspective.

When God promised Abraham a land, a seed and a blessing in Genesis 12:1-3, He wasn’t joking.  That Covenant called the Abrahamic Covenant was amplified in the Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 30:1-10) for the land, the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-16) for the seed and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) for the blessing.  If Israel is now scattered and God has formed a new spiritual species in the church (2 Cor. 5:17), then how do we know covenant fulfillment must still take place?  Ezekiel explains this.

Ezekiel explains what has happened to Israel and what God will do for Israel.  This should not be symbolically interpreted.  A good student should ask, “What is the natural interpretation of the Scripture?”  Ezekiel 36:17-19 explains that God “scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries.”  That didn’t happen when the Northern Kingdom was taken captive in B.C. 722 (2 Kings 17:23) or when the Southern Kingdom was taken into exile in B.C. 586 (2 Kings 25).  Israel was scattered among the nations after 70 A.D. when the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.  The Jews continue to be scattered among the nations to this day.

God continues to demonstrate great concern for His people.  Jewish nonbelievers are greatly blessed, except when they come under persecution (Ezek 36:20-21).  Israel is not preserved as a nation or race because of how great she is, but for His name’s sake (Ezek 36:22-23).  God promises to take the Jews out of the countries (Ezek 36:24).  He declares He will cleanse them from their sin (of rebellion, independence and indifference) (Ezek 36:25).  He will regenerate them and put His Spirit in them to walk in His ways (Ezek. 36:26-27).  That has not been done yet in Israel’s history.  Furthermore, they will dwell in the land that God gave their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ezek 36:28).  That is the fulfillment of the Palestinian Covenant. 

God didn’t record these verses to be symbolically interpreted.  God didn’t promise this to Israel to give them some warm fluffy promise that wouldn’t happen.  God wrote these words for a purpose and it explains divine history.  God is not done with the nation of Israel.

The next installment will deal with the beginning and organization of the church.

Explaining Divine History – Part 2

             In Part one of Explaining Divine History, one must realize there was one way of salvation.  That way of salvation was understood according to what God revealed to man at his point in history.  To Adam and Eve, God revealed the first gospel message in Genesis 3:15.  The seed of the woman would crush the seed of Satan and all rebellion would be paid for satisfying the righteousness of God.  Later, Abraham believed God would provide through His promise that a seed (child) would be born that would remove the penalty for sin.  Salvation by faith is the consistent requirement and is found only in God’s provision through Jesus Christ.  It was fully revealed and explained in the completed canon of Scripture.

            So how do you interpret that canon of Scripture to get one clear interpretation?  There is one interpretation and many applications.  In order to understand that one clear interpretation, the student of Scripture must follow a “Literal Historico-grammatical” approach to interpreting.  That means he looks at the literal or natural view of what the passage is saying. Secondly, he looks at the history surrounding the Scripture as it was written in that culture by that author to that audience.  And thirdly, he looks at the words and the arrangement of the words to get the correct interpretation.  A correct interpretation must be done from the Hebrew and Chaldean in the Old Testament and Greek from the New Testament.  Another word used to describe interpretation is “hermeneutics.” 

Why is this important?  Please note the following principles. The divinely inspired Bible must be interpreted based on a “literal historico-grammatical” approach (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

·         God means what He says and says what He means.  Any apparent problem merely needs careful study to understand God’s unity of truth so that there are no contradictions.

·         God speaks through different authors using their education, personality and background. You can tell by their letters that many different personalities, educational training and backgrounds were used in the writings.

·         God speaks through different forms of literature that must be interpreted based on that type of literature.

o   Narrative literature must have consistency in historical accounts.

o   Poetry must consider rules of symmetry, parallelism, creativity and contrast.

o   Epistles must be considered regarding the audience and application.

o   Eschatology must be considered related to other eschatological passages.

·         The literal interpretation is made unless the context dictates that the words or phrases are used as a metaphor or another figure of speech Dan. 9:26; Zech 6:12.

·         The Bible must be interpreted as a united whole, because it has one divine author 2 Pet. 1:20-21

·         Scripture must be interpreted to include both the Sovereign purposes of God and the free will of Man  John 3:16

            Because God is the author of Scripture, there can be no contradictions in the original manuscripts recorded by the human authors.  Those human authors were “carried along” (2 Peter. 1:20-21), so that God’s complete thought toward man was recorded for man without destroying the literary style, vocabulary or background of the human authors in the original manuscripts.  Where there seems to be a contradiction, it is necessary to compare Scripture with Scripture.  Where difficult passages are found, the natural reading of Scripture is used in that genre of literature.  Too many theological systems impose their theology on the Scripture rather than taking the natural or normal reading of the Scripture.

The next installment will describe that God’s promises to Israel were not nice words, but literal promises to the nation of Israel and have yet to be fulfilled.

Explaining Divine History – Part 1

            The greatest adventure in life is submitting to God in order to understand His Word to us.  There is really nothing more exciting than reading what our Divine Holy God gave to us recorded in Scripture.  It is everything God wants us to know about life, salvation and our walk with Him.   There are many things we do to search for excitement, entertainment and outside interests.  But nothing – nothing – compares to the eternal significance of God’s holy Word to us!

            This is an eleven part series to explain how God administrates human history.  God did far more than orchestrate a perfect creation, watch the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and then try to redeem His people throughout the rest of Scripture.  There is far more going on.  There are several principles that must be understood.  The first is related to God’s mechanism for deliverance from His wrath or what we call salvation.  Notice the principles below:

        There is, and always was, one way of salvation  John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Gen. 3:15; 15:6

·         Salvation was never achieved through keeping the Mosaic or any other law. Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; 3:11,24

      ·         God does all the work at salvation and man does not do anything John 1:12-13

·         There is nothing man can do for the salvation gift Eph. 2:8-9

·         Man’s part is to believe, accept what Jesus has done for him on the cross, then God simultaneously regenerates the human spirit for salvation John 3:16; Titus 3:5.

          There is only one way of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ – what He did for man on the cross.  There is no other name under heaven that has been given to man than Jesus Christ.  For in the reality of His name – that He was both God and man – He satisfied the perfect righteousness of God and by dying on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sins and He removed the barrier that existed between God and man.  From the beginning, man believed in the revelation that was given to Him that God’s promise of salvation was all sufficient and by trusting in that all sufficient payment, man would have redemption.  That redemption is found only in the shed blood of Christ – His death on the cross.

             The next installment will describe the hermeneutic, or method of interpretation, for understanding God’s Word in order to understand God’s so great plan of salvation.

Book Review: A Study of Dispensationalism

A Study of Dispensationalism by Arthur Pink

I have several books written by Arthur Pink and enjoy his astute perspectives.  He is a godly man seeking after God’s heart and seeking to please the Lord in all he does.  I normally enjoy his content, although I was disappointed in reading his “Study of Dispensationalism.”  He purportedly was a devout Dispensationalist in his early spiritual life but he had rejected that.  I was disappointed in how he chose one aspect of Dispensationalism – Hyper-Dispensationalism – and grouped all Dispensationalists under that perspective.  I agree with some of the things he writes about “Hyper-Dispensationalism”, but they are not representative of Dispensationalism.  I’ve noticed that Pink and other writers have taken comments and views of Dispensational authors and built straw men to make their point, which either shows a lack of understanding, a lack of scholarship, or a lack of professionalism.  The book is quite short and the straw is so thick that there is little substance for his case.  He alleges that Dispensationalists view the Gospels and General Epistles as Jewish and therefore only Pauline Epistles contain “Church truth.” (p. 9)  That is Hyper-Dispensationalism, not Dispensationalism.  He argues that both Testaments supplement each other (p. 12).  Assuredly, they supplement, but why do we not sacrifice animals today?  Some of his analogies, like saying the two Testaments resemble the dual structure of the human body (two eyes) seem to be very weak.  He accuses Dispensationalists of closing Scripture to people (p. 24), which is Hyper-Dispensationalism, but Dispensationalism adheres to Romans 15:4, “…whatever things were written before were written for our learning…”  I do agree that Pink is right in saying Dispensationalists argue that promises made to Israel should not be applied directly to the church (p. 33).  As a Dispensationalist, I can apply the principle, but not the direct promises.  His categorizations affirm his Replacement Theology, to which I would not agree.  I’m glad I read his book, so that I can be more alert to other writings he has made.  I know we’ll have great conversations in heaven.

Book Review: Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth

Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth- A Critique of Dispensationalism, by John Gerstner

John Gerstner is obviously intelligent, steeped in Reformed Theology and willing to take other theologians to task.  He calls a spade a spade.  He has drawn a line in the sand that makes clear some of the differences between Reformed Theology and Dispensationalism.  I do appreciate his frankness and clear cut divides, because it makes it easier to understand the differences between the two theological systems.
He does, however, fail to be objective with Dispensationalism as other writers have done (e.g. Wilcox, Pink).  This clearest divide is declaring that Dispensationalism teaches a false gospel (pp. 149, 230, 251, 259, 263, 270).  There is nothing more fundamental than the gospel, and “one of us is wrong – seriously wrong,” he writes (p. 263).  Yet, the battle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12), so where do these differences come from?
I’m amazed at how little Scripture is used to support his position.  His discussion of Dispensationalism is almost entirely from the writings of those who adhere to Dispensationalism, rather than arguing against the Scriptures they use to teach Dispensationalism.  That would seem more objective.  Anyone can take quotes from authors, even in context, and state that they apply to all people who hold a particular theology.  Gerstner cites many Dispensationalists, but often comes to wrong conclusions.  Again, Scripture is rarely used.
The differences come from a lack of understanding why we are here.  We are here to glorify God, most reformed theologians would say, but we are also here for the sake of the Angelic Conflict that existed prior to our creation (Matt. 25:41; Eph. 3:9-10; 1 Pet. 1:8-12).  If your theology doesn’t include the big picture of God’s creation and sovereign purposes, it will fall short of answering important questions and fail to harmonize much of Scripture.
Dr. Gerstner shows that while he understands Dispensationalism fairly well, he also has created a Dispensational Theology that is not true to Dispensationalism.  He declares that Dispensationalists believe that the Kingdom should have been set up at the First Advent (p. 19).  A few taught that, but most do not.  He states that Dispensationalists see “division and separation in Scripture rather than unity.” (p. 89, cf. 99).  There is certainly a division of administrations, but a unity of the overall decree of God in the fulfillment of His Plan to fulfill the Angelic Conflict. He argues that Dispensationalists are not as literal as they purport. (p. 92) They are much more consistent in acknowledging the different types of literature (genre) of Scripture.  Gerstner declares that Dispensationalists do not teach the imputation of Adam’s guilt (sin). (p. 108)  Darby may have been confused on that, but Luther was confused on many issues and all today, that I know of, teach the imputation of Adam’s original sin.  Adam was the federal representative for all mankind. Gerstner writes that Disp teach that God’s will is limited by human will (p. 115).  If God willingly limits Himself to allow an evil government to kill its own people, then that is not limiting God’s will.  That is allowing the creature to reveal it is disposed to evil when not dependent on the will of God.
Gerstner teaches that according to Disp that because man can refuse God’s blessed salvation, that God is therefore or would be frustrated and bereaved from blessedness (p. 129).  Man’s rejection of God’s provision could never deprive God of any peace or blessing.  Is Gerstner’s God that small?  Gerstner writes that a Disp teaches “man can save himself by throwing himself upon the saving grace of Jesus Christ.” (p. 141)  That reads into what is Disp because while man believes, God must take that spark of faith to simultaneously regenerate his dead spirit, i.e. it is God alone that saves man (John 1:13).  Gerstner teaches that Reformed Theology is the only correct view (p. 150).  I’m thankful for his frankness.  Unfortunately, he identifies all Dispensationalists as Antinomian (p. 209, 210-230).  He teaches that Dispensationalists teach more than one way of salvation (p. 155, 158). He teaches that Disp teach that “faith is a ‘work’” (p. 158, 161).  Again, these are not what Disp teach (John 1:13).
There are a number of things he writes that are Scripturally wrong and form the premise for his wrong theology. For example, he writes that God never invites reprobates (p. 177).  I was reprobate.  (Compare also John 16:8-11).  He uses OT Scriptures to say that the Church was mentioned in the OT (p. 187).  That must be why he doesn’t use a Literal historico-grammatical approach to  hermeneutics (interpretation). He writes that “mystery” means it was partly known because of the previous Scriptures (p. 199).  He’s twisting definitions to fit his theology.  He confuses that because Disp believe Israel and the Church are distinct that there are two kinds of salvation (p. 206).  The same salvation existed and exists for both.
I’m grateful for this volume, because it creates a clear divide between Reformed Theology and Dispensationalism.  R.C. Sproul, as a reformed theologian seems to support Gerstner, but states, “If a dispensationalist reads this book and honestly says, ‘This is not what I believe,’ nothing would please Gerstner more.” (p. xi)  As a dispensationalist, I find too much of what Gerstner has written, I do not believe.  Sproul also writes, “Is it possible that Gerstner has misunderstood dispensational theology and consequently misrepresented it? We must surely hold to this possibility.” (p. xi)  But Sproul also says, “If Gerstner is accurate, then dispensationalism should be discarded as being a serious deviation from Biblical Christianity.” (p. xi)  The study must continue, but not to be distracted from reaching the world for the sake of Jesus Christ.  The analysis makes clear that there are many questions that should be asked of believers in each theological system, “What saith the Lord?”