QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
♦ Can you explain how one is born of the spirit?
On February 23, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“Can you explain how one is born of the spirit? How do you explain 2 Corinthians 1:22?” The scripture states:
“He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.” – 2 Corinthians 1:22
To the author, we want to thank you for your inquiry and for the opportunity to expound on this most important subject. A similar question was posed to Jesus by the Pharisee, Nicodemus.
“Nicodemus said to him: ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter into the womb of his mother a second time and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered: ‘Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel because I told you, You people must be born again. The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone that has been born from the spirit.’” – John 3:4-9
By saying “What has been born from flesh is flesh,’ Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he is not talking about fleshly birth, or returning to a woman’s womb. And when he says that you may hear the sound of wind but not know from where it is coming, he means that being born from the spirit is not discernible by the eye. In other words, when a person is born again, there are no outward manifestations.
We want you to know that the Father’s work is simple and straight forward. There is no hocus pocus, no pomp and circumstance, no mysticism, and no rituals. The bestowal of the spirit of truth is independent of all forms, ceremonies, sacred places, and special behavior by those who received the fullness of its manifestation.
When the spirit came upon those assembled in the upper chamber, they were simply sitting there, having just been engaged in silent prayer. (Acts 1:12-14; 2:1-4) The spirit was bestowed in the country as well as in the city. It was not necessary for the apostles to go apart to a lonely place for years of solitary meditation in order to receive the spirit. For all time, Pentecost disassociates the idea of spiritual experience from the notion of rituals and sacred environments.
Being born of the spirit is simply a realization that you are not a slave, but a son. It merely signifies the conscious reception of the gift of the spirit of truth and the personal acknowledgment of a new spiritual power, and dignity. When a king summons his slave, the slaves arrives and prostrates himself, saying “Yes, my Lord.” When a king summons his son, the son arrives, stands face to face and says “Yes, Father” even as we say “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)
We recognize this world as our divine inheritance, not as a scary and evil place. We recognize difficulties we encounter in day to day living as opportunities for growth, not as punishment from an unforgiving potentate. We are free – free sons of the living God, free brothers of the living Christ. (1 Peter 2:16) While we still fall short, we have done away with the “consciousness of sin.” (Hebrews 10:2; Acts 24:16) And with that new found self respect, we can courageously face all obstacles.
Having said that, we do acknowledge that the realization that one is a son of God may bring with it a profound emotional reaction or experience. Being the child of the ineffable Father of the universe can be an overwhelming joy. But that experience is a human reaction, not a manifestation of spirit.
Neither make the mistake of expecting to become strongly intellectually conscious of the outpoured spirit of truth. The spirit never creates a consciousness of himself, only a consciousness of the Christ. From the beginning Jesus taught that the spirit would not speak of itself.
“I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present. However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming. That one will glorify me, because he will receive from what is mine and will declare it to you.”– John 16:12-14
The proof, therefore, of your being born of the spirit is not to be found in your consciousness of this spirit but rather in your experience of enhanced fellowship with the Christ.
Do not overlook the fact that the spirit of truth was bestowed upon all sincere believers; this gift of the spirit did not come only to the apostles. The one hundred and twenty men and women assembled in the upper chamber all received the new teacher, as did all the honest of heart throughout the whole world. This new teacher was bestowed upon mankind, and every soul received him in accordance with the love for truth and the capacity to grasp and comprehend spiritual realities. After that bestowal (or baptism), a person would experience accelerated spiritual growth – often, but not necessarily, intellectual, but certainly in revealing the Father’s love and the son’s mercy; the Father’s nature and the son’s moral character.
The bestowal of the spirit of the Father is the token:
“He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.” – 2 Corinthians 1:22
At last, true religion is delivered from the custody of ritual priests and all sacred classes, and finds its real manifestation in the individual hearts of men. And it fosters the highest type of human civilization in that it creates the highest type of spiritual personality and proclaims the sacredness of that person. Yes, being born again of the spirit is a fresh start where we can leave the superfluous things behind and press forward to the goal of the kingdom of the heavens.
“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it" - Matthew 11:12
We perhaps have gone a bit beyond your inquiry, but we felt these thoughts would be encouraging so that you would know the tremendous love your Father has shown and continues to show to all those accepting this wonderful gift. Press forward!
If you have any additional comments or questions, please email us. We respond to ALL inquiries.
♦ Does the spirit bear witness the same way to all sons? And does it make it known to others?
On April 7, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“If the holy spirit convinces you that you are son of god, does this take time or happens all at once?”
To the author, we thank you for your inquiry and for allowing us to publish this response. We are touched by your words of appreciation and we pray that we can continue to support you as you support others. Here is our response to this question:
The whole purpose of the Christ’s coming to earth was to reveal to mankind the true nature of the Father and to reveal that we are all sons of this Father. Note that this is arevealing, not an appointment.
“Now I say that as long as the heir is a babe he does not differ at all from a slave, lord of all things though he is, but he is under men in charge and under stewards until the day his father appointed beforehand. Likewise we also, when we were babes, continued enslaved by the elementary things belonging to the world. But when the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son, who came to be out of a woman and who came to be under law, that he might release by purchase those under law, that we, in turn, might receive the adoption as sons.”– Galatians 4:1-5
These verses tell us that we have always been sons, even though we did not know it. We acted as babes, needing earthly caretakers (ritual priests) and were enslaved by elementary doctrines belonging to the world (earthly hopes). But God sent his Son to teach us the more weighty and spiritual matters so that we will be able to receive the adoption. Notice it does not that say that we might be offered adoption, but that we might receive it. It has already and always been offered, even during the days of Abraham. But the idea was too lofty for mankind to accept. We lacked self respect, self dignity, viewed ourselves as good for nothing sinners, and could not comprehend the magnitude of the Father’s love for us. We needed to see the Father’s mercy presented on our level, from a “son of man” so that we might understand. And when we understand, we can open up and receive the adoption long since offered.
How long does it take for us to receive it? That all depends on our own spiritual and mental status. Many even now labor under the idea that we are not worthy. But Jesus told us “even the hairs of our head are numbered” and that “we are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31) Many are too humble to receive the adoption. They hide their spiritual light under a basket. Jesus counseled us to ‘lift the basket and set our light on high so that others can see our light and give glory to the Father.’ (Matthew 5:14-16) And of course, there are some who accept their adoption in their hearts, but due to fear of men, chose not to make it known. Jesus said to those of us with this limitation:
“For whoever becomes ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of man will be ashamed of this one when he arrives in his glory and that of the Father and of the holy angels.”– Luke 9:26
We must not let fear of men prevent us from letting our lights shine. And who knows, perhaps there are others in your congregation who are wrestling with their sonship. Your boldness might empower them to make their hope sure. (2 Peter 1:10) Then you can support one another. Of course, we are here to support you as well.
In the first century, the disciples who heard the word of truth preached to them immediately recognized and accepted their sonship. (Acts 10:44-48) But today, especially among Jehovah’s Witnesses, we are slow to accept our sonship, not because of lack of faith in God, but because, as a group, we have a lack of faith in the Father. (See our article “Revealing God as a Loving Father” for a further discussion of this distinction.)
But no matter how long it takes, whenever your heart opens up to the Father, whenever your courage overpowers your fear, whenever you accept your sonship, your Father and the Christ will be there for you. Then the spirit of truth will be poured out to you so that you can advance in your knowledge and understanding of the Kingdom and the place to where you are going that was prepared just for you.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.”– John 14:1-4
Yes, we know the way – Jesus is the way. Imitate his faith. And may and “the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
♦ Does it take time for the holy spirit to convince us we are sons?
On April 7, 2012, we received the following inquiries:
“Are the anointed sons of God in unity with how the holy spirit convinces them? Does it do it differently with each individual. I learned it’s a personal thing between Jehovah and his son but does the holy spirit make it known to others around you as well?”
To the author, we thank you for your inquiries and hope we can provide satisfactory answers. Here are our responses.
First, please know that the holy spirit does not convince us of anything. It does not work overtly to reason with us or push us to any particular conclusion. Otherwise, the gift of sonship would not be taken by free will. Every spirit creation in harmony with the Father unreservedly respects man’s free will.
Instead, the realization of sonship is presented openly and laid out before us. We hear the message and we ponder it. Then must each of us “be fully convinced in his own mind.”(Roman 14:5) Yes, we convince ourselves based on what we know and learn about the Father’s purposes! That is the only way we can please the Father well. The spirit supports our decision, but our sonship must be freely and personally accepted.
This answers the other part of the question: are anointed sons united in how this occurs. Yes, we are united in that we must each come to this conclusion on our own, but the methodology may differ from son to son. Some accept this immediately, some need more time.
But perhaps you are asking if all sons receive a similar type of manifestation that convinces them of their sonship. Our response to that question is that when we experience outward manifestations that convince us we are sons, these are generally personal experiences and reactions. The human mind is a very complex organ. It communicates ideas to us through various means and through all of our senses, including what is called “our mind’s eye” – our gift of imagination and internal visions. Please see our response in Question and Response, February 23, 2012.
Finally, to your last question of whether the holy spirit makes it known to others, our answer is yes. But not in the way you might be expecting. The spirit does not bear witness with the spirit of others that you are a son, only with your own spirit. (Romans 8:16) However, others will know of your sonship by the fruitage of the spirit that you manifest. (Galatians 5:22-23) The more you imitate the Christ, the more will people recognize something different about you. And those who love the Father and the Christ will “see you.”
Having said that, we caution you not to be too concerned with whether or not others accept your sonship. It is indeed, as you said, a personal matter between you and the Father. When we seek the approval and recognition of others, we ourselves are involving others in this personal matter. How then can we complain when we are the ones inviting them in? Instead, make your peace with the Father and his Christ and you alone. Then go forward doing the work set our for you as “Ambassadors Substituting for Christ.”
We hope we have answered your questions to your satisfaction. If not, please feel free to write us again
♦ Visitor does not agree that the Divine Spirit Fragment and the Spirit of Truth are the two witnesses that bear witness that we are sons of God, pursuant to Romans 8:16
On September 17, 2012, we received an inquiry regarding the following comments that appears in the article “The Divine Spirit Fragment of the Father”:
“With the advent of Christ Jesus, and the subsequent pouring out of the spirit of truth at Pentecost, the divine fragments were activated and we understood, we knew, we were children of God. We had the testimony of two witnesses (Matthew 18:16): the divine fragment and the spirit of truth. This is what Paul meant when he said that ‘all creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.’ (Romans 8:19)”
This is the inquiry:
“I do not agree that our human spirit that was born anew, and the holy Spirit are two witnesses. The Holy Spirit bears witness to our born again Spirit that died to its union to Holy Spirit at the fall. Romans 8 talks about 2 helpers, Christ Jesus as our mediator, and perfector of our faith and the indwelling Holy Spirit the resurrected life he died and lived to give us.
“I don't agree that the treasure in clay pots is our OWN renewed spirit, as Paul said no good dwells in me, but the resurrected life in Holy Spirit ..this is the treasure.
“Christ Jesus said he and his Father are two witnesses. 1 John 5:9-13 states besides the eyewitness accounts at Christ's baptism and death, the Father states that the Holy Spirit will be our personal witness as we believe that the eternal life is in him.”
To the author, we thank you for your inquiry. You have clearly given much thought to these matters and have tried to harmonize them, without success. When this occurs, sometimes the problem is that we do not have all the facts or are lacking in some manner of clarity. Under those circumstances, a complete harmonization may have to await further study and prayer and often, the passage of time. In the meantime, we respond as follows:
Please note that nothing in the subject article identifies something as the “human spirit.” We refer to man’s indwelling spirit as the Divine Spirit Fragment of the Father. And we firmly believe the Spirit of the Father that dwells within us is good. We are certain that Paul was not contradicting that.
It appears to us that the nature of our difference in views derives from an incomplete understanding of the variety of spirit influences that converge on human nature – all of which can be referred to generically as Holy Spirit. You may wish to review the articles “The Bestowal of the Spirit of Truth” and “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit.”
If you have read those articles and continue to see a difference in our understanding, then unfortunately, there is not much more we can say at this time. A greater appreciation of these matters would have to come to you by way of revelation or further study. If that is the case, then we encourage you to pray to the Father and the Christ for a deeper understanding of the operation and nature of Holy Spirit.
In our work, we refrain from engaging in debates over general theology. Our mission is spiritual in nature, meaning that our mission is to preach and teach that we are all children of God by our faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26) Sonship with the Father is the ‘mustard seed’ that will grow into a mighty tree and provide refreshment and clarity for all. (Please see the article “The Mustard Seed.”) When we individually accept the kingdom seed, and follow Jesus’ example of faith in the Father, all other things will work themselves out – if not in this system, then in that to come. And it will be as John wrote, ‘the anointing will teach us.’ (1 John 2:27)
Until then, we will accept that your current understanding of the operation and nature of Holy Spirit differs from our own. And we respect that. Notwithstanding our differences in theology, we believe that we are united in spirit, in our love for the Father and the Christ, and in our determination to keep on seeking, asking and knocking. And for that, we are grateful.
♦ What is the difference between the spirit of truth and holy spirit?
On December 11, 2014, we received the following comment:
"Hello! In your opinion, what is the difference, if any, between the spirit of the truth and the Holy Spirit? You say the spirit of truth was given to the disciples but the book of Acts says it was the Holy Spirit that was poured out. Isn't the Holy Spirit God 's spirit? Yet you claim that God's spirit already dwells in us? Apologies if you've covered this on your website and I missed it. Thanks in advance!”
To the author, thank you for your email. Yes, we covered this on the website. We mentioned that holy spirit manifests in many ways. While all manifestations of spirit are holy and united, each has a distinct function and purpose. We discussed a few of the different manifestations of holy spirit in the section, Divine Relationships. Specifically, we discussed the Father’s Spirit in The Divine Spirit Fragments of the Father. We discussed the Son’s Spirit in The Bestowal of the Spirit of Truth. We discussed the Holy Spirit in The Ministry of the Holy Spirit, and we expounded a little more on the Son’s Spirit in The Reality of the Spirit of Truth. After you review this information, if you continue to have questions, please do not hesitate to write us again.
However, we want to mention that the greatest manifestation of holy spirit on earth are the nine fruits of the spirit:
“On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”– Galatians 5:22-23
We say this because these manifestations cause more people to glorify the Father than any other. The manifestations we referred to above are the Father’s provisions for reaching out to mankind. But it is only when we respond to those manifestations, by displaying the fruits of the spirit, that we accomplish the Father’s will. And more importantly, when the fruits of the spirit are manifested, no one can boast in themselves. All the glory goes to the Father.
And when hate becomes love, depression becomes joy, discord becomes peace, intolerance becomes patience, when maliciousness become kindness, badness becomes goodness, fear becomes faith, when haughtiness becomes mildness, and when self-indulgence becomes self-control, we can change our world.
♦ Can you explain what “the spirit of slavery” is? (Romans 8:14)
On May 7, 2015, we received the following inquiry:
“Can you explain what "the spirit of slavery" is?”
To the author, thank you for your email. The easiest way to answer your question is to consider the context of the scripture that refers to the spirit of slavery. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“For all who are led by God’s spirit are indeed God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs—heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ—provided we suffer together so that we may also be glorified together.” – Romans 8:14-17
Paul was writing to Roman Christians, a people who were very familiar with slavery. Using that practice as an appropriate setting, Paul contrasted the mind and inclination of a slave with the mind and inclination of a son of God. He explained that God’s sons are led by spirit and the spirit leading them – the Spirit of Truth – is not characterized by fear, but by a confident assurance and a strong faith that God is their personal intimate father.
A slave approaches his master with eyes turned down not knowing what to expect. But a son approaches his father looking him straight into his eyes knowing that the father always has his best interests at heart. A slave is always doing and working so as to please his master. But a son is born with the father’s favor. A slave works and works but receives no pay. He may receive a small reward during his lifetime depending on the master, and a hearty "thank you" as he returns to the dust. But a son carries on the family business and gains the inheritance.
Paul was telling the Roman Christians not to cower away from God or view God as an angry potentate who would strike them down for any wrong, as a slave might think – the spirit of slavery. But to see God as their own father, one who loves and welcomes them. Although their actual adoption is for a future time, for now they have a faith-based sonship – the spirit of adoption – knowing in their hearts that their future adoption as spirit sons of God is assured. When one comes to know God and the one he sent, Jesus Christ, then the desire by faith to be adopted comes naturally.
Whether one has a spirit of slavery or a spirit of adoption as sons is a question of life or death – either one accepts sonship and gains the inheritance of everlasting life, or one accepts slavery and returns to the dust.
♦ How are people or a person baptized with the Holy Spirit?
On May 12, 2015, we received the following inquiry:
"How are people or a person baptized with the Holy Spirit?"
To the author, thank you for your email. We are responding publicly because we believe others may have the same question.
Jesus made baptism by spirit possible when he poured out his spirit – the Spirit of Truth – at Pentecost shortly after his resurrection. Being baptized with that holy spirit is merely the conscious reception of the Spirit of Truth in our life and a personal acknowledgment of this new spirit power actuating our mind and heart. All one needs to do in order to be ‘baptized’ in the spirit is to pray for it and make a consecration to follow its leading. It’s really that simple.
Spirit baptism signifies our rebirth, or being born again, and being delivered from bondage to the flesh and its desires. The spirit’s leading does not require us to exercise self-denial. The spirit’s leading is always positive in nature. It will move us to spontaneously exhibit the fruits of the spirit which is the highest form of self-control. A spirit born person views their consecration, not as a duty, but as a privilege to clear one’s minds and body from evil thoughts and deeds. And it creates a sublime peace with the Father and an assurance of salvation and personality survival after the death of the mortal body. It is the ultimate destroyer of doubt. Thus, a spirit born person does not need a written law. The law of God is written in our hearts, meaning ‘God’s will is our will.’
Since the Spirit of Truth is, in essence, the spirit of Jesus, following the leading of the spirit will always lead you down a path that imitates Jesus, that honors the Father, and that serves our brothers and our neighbors. A person who is baptized with holy spirit follows Jesus exclusively. He or she is not a follower of men. Additionally, those baptized with the Spirit of Truth are lovers of truth. They will not accept error for the sake of peace, comfort, fear or ease. Like the Apostle Peter, one who is baptized with holy spirit will ‘obey God as ruler rather than men’ at all costs. Being baptized with spirit is the first step toward spiritual understanding and the only ticket into the deeper things of God and the heavenly kingdom.
One knows he has been baptized by the spirit by the way he thinks and behaves. He will attempt the ultimate goal of becoming ‘perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.’ Not perfection according to man’s standards which are fraught with so much minutia and controlling restrictions. But being perfect according to the Father’s standard – the fulfillment of the two greatest commandments – to love God with your whole being and to love your neighbor as yourself.
♦ In Question and Response 5/12/15, are we promising freedom without moral restraint?
On May 16, 2015, we received the following comment:
[Regarding Question and Response 5/12/15] “Your answer made a lot of good points, except where you say: "The spirit's leading does not require us to exercise self-denial." Notice the "words of Jesus", as you are so fond of saying: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself." -- Mt 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23 (NIV and many others) Based on Jesus' own words, therefore, 'exercising self-denial" is absolutely essential for entrance into, and maintaining Christian discipleship and sonship through Spirit baptism. This is confirmed by Rom 7:21-25 and 1 Cor 9:24-27. Surely you're not "promising them freedom" without moral restraint are you? (2 Pt 2:19 NAS) Agape.”
To the author, thank you for your email and for closely examining the information we publish. We see your point. Perhaps we should have stated our position another way to avoid confusion.
When we wrote that the spirit’s leading does not require us to exercise self-denial, we were referring to self-denial in the sense that Jesus was at Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23. Jesus said we would need to ‘disown ourselves.’ That means that we would let go of self-importance and pride, and humble ourselves to the teachings and ministry of the Christ instead of following our own counsel or the counsel of others on how to gain life.
We do not believe he was encouraging us to withhold bodily pleasures by doing things such as fasting, physically beating ourselves, or purposely living a life of poverty thinking those acts are pleasing or required. Even Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 do not carry that meaning, although there are many people who believe he was, in fact, encouraging Jesus’ followers to inflict some type of bodily harm to themselves in order to be found faithful. There are whole religious orders who practice self-harm thinking it is the way to life. That is not what Jesus or Paul were saying, nor what we were saying.
What we were trying to explain is that we do not need to constantly deprive ourselves in order to please God. We are to rejoice, eat the fruits of our labor, and be shining examples of the kindly and light load. So rather than focusing on what we cannot or should not do, we encourage our brothers and sisters to focus on what they should do, specifically that we should display the fruits of the spirit which we said is was the highest form of self-control. Self-control continues to be important, but the method is proactive, positive and giving, rather than reactive, negative and withholding.
We in no way want to ‘promise freedom without moral restraint.’ We are just explaining that moral restraint should not be our goal. The goal is to do something positive – like producing the fruits of the spirit. When you are positive and proactive, you automatically avoid the works of the flesh. It is similar to our view that the congregations should not focus on sin, but rather on good works and positive actions, and thereby there is no room for sin to take hold.
If some read our response to Question and Response 5/12/15 and concluded that we were encouraging moral abandonment, we apologize and hope this response clears up our message.