A tender conscience

While doing some research for a book I am writing, tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology, I came across the following quotation from John Morison in a book titled Conscience, written by Thomas Baird and published in 1914:

There is peril attending every step which is taken in the indulgence of any known sin, or in the neglect of any acknowledged obligation. A tender conscience will not trifle with its conviction, lest the heart should be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.[archive]

More on Psalm 110:1 and baptism


On March 1, 2019, I posted some insights titled “Psalm 110:1 and Acts 2:38.” This was a result of my work for a book tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology. As I looked carefully at Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, with its many quotations from the Old Testament and explanations of the meaning of those references, I noticed that the final verse he quoted was Psalm 110:1, the Old Testament verse most frequently quoted, paraphrased, and alluded to in the New Testament: “The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”

After Peter quoted this verse, he declared, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” It seemed clear to me that there was something about Psalm 110:1 and the insight Peter drew from it that cut his hearers “to the heart,” causing them to know there was something they must do. What was it?

Peter’s answer was, of course, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized  in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Then, I noticed that Peter reiterated the essence of the closing words of his message in response to the high priest who had imprisoned him and other apostles.

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging him on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him (Acts 5:30-32).

Psalm 110:1 is seen here in the reference to the exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God. The statement about repentance and forgiveness of sins looks back to Peter’s words about the purpose of baptism. The phrase “so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” connects with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38.

During the week since the March 1 post I have been doing a lot of reading (as indicated by the pictures on this post!) on Psalm 110. This has resulted in new insights I plan to include in the book, because there are connections between the psalm and Jesus’ work of pouring out the Spirit. As we would expect, this also means there are connections between Psalm 110 and baptism. I will offer a couple examples here.

Peter referred to Psalm 110 not only in Acts 2 and Acts 5, but also in his teaching on baptism in I Peter 3:21-22. You will see it immediately:

There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

It is quite interesting that Peter associates baptism with Psalm 110:1 both in his first sermon and his first letter. But that is not the end of the story. If we continue to read his letter, we discover the context includes a reference to the Spirit that resonates with Acts 2:38:

For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit (I Peter 4:6).

But Peter is not alone in his interest in the significance of Psalm 110:1 and baptism. Paul has the same insights:

In him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. . . . If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God (Colossians 2:11-12; 3:1).

First century people of faith responded with repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ upon hearing the message of Psalm 110:1, with its news of the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. But those who rejected Jesus responded with anger and violence, as in the case of the martyrdom of Stephen, who, “being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Stephen said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56).

As those who have attended any of my classes on the Old Testament, the Poetic Books, or the Book of Psalms know, as well as those who have read my book The Messiah in the Psalms: Discovering Christ in Unexpected Places, I am convinced that the Psalter is rich with messianic insights, far richer than we have exhausted. I will continue to investigate these truths as they relate to the book I am now writing.

For those who may be interested in reading my additional work on I Peter, I have written a verse by verse commentary titled I Peter: Standing Fast in the Grace of God. It is available as a Kindle download, iBook, and at www.pentecostalpublishing.com, both as a hard copy and ebook.




Psalm 110:1 and Acts 2:38

Now that I am basically finished with my work on the Spirit in the Old Testament, I’m pressing on with the intention of examining every reference to the Spirit in the New Testament. This project is to complete a manuscript tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology for submission to the Pentecostal Publishing House by April 30 of this year. I hope, but cannot promise, that this book will be published in time for the general conference of the United Pentecostal Church International later this year.

At this moment, I’m working on chapter twenty, “The Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus.” I want to be very diligent in my treatment of Acts 2, where Peter announced, after referring to Psalm 132:11, “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33).

It is essential to note here that it was Jesus who poured out the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, a profound insight in view of Peter’s quotation from Joel 2, which affirms that God said, “I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh . . . I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Acts 2:17-18). A look at the context of these words in Joel confirms that the word God refers to Yahweh. (See Joel 2:27, where Yahweh [sometimes pronounced as Jehovah] is rendered LORD).

Like you, I’ve read Acts 2 many times. But this time, wanting to pay careful attention to the fact that the Spirit was poured out by Jesus, I was captured by the fact that the final verse Peter quoted from the Old Testament, in a message rich in quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures, was the verse quoted, paraphrased, or alluded to more frequently in the New Testament than any other, Psalm 110:1. There was something about this verse that cut those who heard Peter to the heart, prompting them to say, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s answer is found, of course, in Acts 2:38.

What could there be in Psalm 110:1 that provoked such a response from Peter’s hearers? Here are Peter’s words:

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

The LORD said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:34-36).

You can find my comments on Psalm 110 in the Apostolic Study Bible, published by Word Aflame Press. But as I continued to work on the relationship between Psalm 110 and Acts 2, I noticed the similarity between between Peter’s words in Acts 2:32-38 and in Acts 5:30-32:

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.

In both cases, Peter’s message is essentially the same. It focuses on the resurrection of Jesus, His exaltation as announced in Psalm 110:1, the consequence of which is the requirement of repentance, the promise of forgiveness, and the promise of the Holy Spirit for those who obey. Although Peter did not specifically mention baptism in this case, this is understood in the word “obey,” an apparent reference to the response of those who repented and were baptized as he commanded in Acts 2:38.

One of the resources I’ve looked at in my work is the book Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and coming of Israel’s King. The book is written by Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2012). Bateman is professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Darrell L. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society; Johnston is professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.

I think you would enjoy Bock’s comments on the last section of Peter’s words in Acts 2:

The allusion to Psalm 132:11 with its roots in 2 Samuel 7 points to God foreseeing, through the prophet David’s utterance, the resurrection of Christ (2:31), which leads to the exaltation of Jesus through the vindication of God to God’s right hand, where Psalm 110:1 is the key text. The proper response to this message is being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (2:38). Now authority for forgiveness comes from God through Jesus and is not associated with regular sacrifices. Now forgiveness, a right of God to grant, comes through the name of Jesus, the One who is Lord and Christ [page 409].

And, by the way, the book also points out, on pages 94-95, that “the image of God’s right hand was often metaphorical for God’s power or favor.”

This is a major project, but I’m enjoying the work and some new discoveries along the way. The time to develop a new book is one of the great benefits of retirement![archive]

The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology, Lesson 12

Lesson 12: A Summary of the Identity and Work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, February 24, 2019 | The Sanctuary UPC

Daniel L. Segraves

An examination of every reference to the Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures clearly reveals the identity of the Spirit and the nature of His work. The Spirit is the Lord God in action, doing something. He enables people to foresee, to interpret, to lead, to judge. He gives them skills to do what they could not otherwise do.

[2]The various terms used to describe the Spirit – His Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, Your Spirit, Holy Spirit, My Spirit – are used as virtual synonyms. No distinction in identity or activity is seen in the use of these descriptors.

[3]When the Spirit comes upon someone, it is not unusual for it to result in supernatural vocalization. The coming of the Spirit is commonly accompanied by prophetic words. This is apparently an anticipation of the work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament church, where, on Pentecost, all the gathered believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages they had never learned. This demonstrates that the work of the Spirit in the era of the New Covenant was like, but above and beyond any previous work of the Spirit in the lives of people.

[4]Several Old Testament texts about the Spirit were quoted by Jesus as finding their fulfillment in Him. The Spirit brings prophecy to fulfillment and empowers the Messiah.

[5]The Spirit can be grieved and rebelled against. But at the same time, the Spirit continues to speak to those in rebellion, seeking to bring them to a place of restoration and obedience. He is not merely an impersonal force.

Brief Insights about the Holy Spirit

  1. The work of the Spirit with or by means of someone is not a reward for theological accuracy or godly character.
  2. The Spirit can transport a person from one location to another as well as providing visionary transport.
  3. The Spirit can symbolize divine judgment, destroying those who reject Him and providing defense for His people.
  4. The presence of the Lord refers to the Spirit.
  5. Joel’s prophecy of the coming outpouring of the Spirit, fulfilled at Pentecost, was the answer to Moses’s prayer.
  6. Messages, or prophecies, with their origins in the Spirit build up and encourage people of faith, resulting in new commitments to holiness, worship, and covenant keeping.
  7. The Spirit inspired the writing of the Old Testament Scriptures.
  8. The wisdom present with God at creation was what is elsewhere known as the Spirit of wisdom.
  9. The Spirit creates and renews, restores joy, and enables those restored to teach others.

The work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament anticipates and provides a template for the work of the Spirit in the New Testament. There is no reason to think the Holy Spirit no longer does in the era of the New Testament what He did before this time. But it will be seen in the New Testament Scriptures that the work of the Spirit under the New Covenant surpasses what the Spirit did in the prior age.[archive]


The Messiah in the Psalms and Second Peter and Jude now available as ebook downloads from Amazon, iBook and PPH

I am glad to report that my books The Messiah in the Psalms: Discovering Christ in Unexpected Places and Second Peter and Jude are now available as ebooks. Here is a brief description of these books:

The Messiah in the Psalms (382 pages)

Shortly before His ascension, Jesus explained the messianic content of the Psalms to His disciples. This opened their understanding, enabling them to comprehend the Scriptures. By implication, this means that if we are not aware of the way the Psalter testifies of the Messiah, our understanding of the Scriptures, and even of Jesus, is incomplete.

The Book of Psalms is quoted, alluded to, or paraphrased over two hundred times in the New Testament. In the first Pentecostal declaration of the gospel, Peter quoted from the Psalms to point out that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection were foretold by David. Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost consists of twenty-six verses, twelve of which are direct quotations from the Book of Psalms or explanations of those quotations.

This book explores the messianic content of the first seventy-two psalms, which comprise books one and two within the Psalter. It explains the vital role of the first two psalms as an introduction to the entire book, the important function of the superscriptions, and the significance of the psalms Jesus included in His prayers.

The Messiah in the Psalms will open your eyes to the Christology of the Book of Psalms, a Christology so thorough that it foretells the Messiah’s birth, life, sufferings, resurrection, ascension, and Second Coming. In addition, the Psalter anticipates Christ’s ascension gifts to the church and His continuing presence in the worshiping community.

Second Peter and Jude (258 pages)

This verse by verse commentary examines the shared concern of Peter and Jude about the infiltration of the church by false teachers.  The attitude of these false teachers is quite similar to the freewheeling immorality or amorality of our day.  It is popularly thought that morality is what one makes it and that each person is his own authority.  A bumper sticker that encouraged people to “Question Authority” seemed radical in the 1960s, but now this philosophy is a way of life for many.

Just as was the case with the false teachers exposed by Peter and Jude, those today who promote a permissive, hedonistic lifestyle labor under the illusion that they are rejecting bondage for liberty.  In reality, they reject liberty for enslaving, addictive habits that viciously control their lives.

As society becomes increasingly characterized by enslavement to lust – whether it is expressed in sexual immorality, drug abuse, alcoholism, violence, greed, or any other addictive behavior – believers will stand in starker contrast.  Those whose faith is in Christ Jesus have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Because the same errors promoted by false teachers in the first century are common today, Second Peter and Jude are particularly relevant for the church of the twenty-first century.

In addition to the Kindle download available at amazon.com and the iBook version, these books can be purchased at www.pentecostalpublishing.com.[archive]