Spirit Baptism

 

 

SPIRIT BAPTISM: PROMOTING UNITY AND HOLINESS

Issue

Every Christian believes in the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The disagreements that Christians have regarding the baptism in the Spirit concern two particular aspects of this baptism:  when is it administered and who receives it?  I will demonstrate that the bible teaches all believers in Christ are baptized into the Holy Spirit at the time of their conversion.  To do this, all of the relevant scriptures must be examined and explained together in a way that makes them cohere, and I will also interact with the differing opinions on these texts.  The texts include the references of baptism with the Spirit in the Gospels, the ensuing baptisms in Acts, and Paul’s teaching on the Spirit in his letters.

Texts that use the terms baptized in the Spirit

       I’ll begin where the gospels do.  All four of the gospels record John the Baptist’s words that the coming Messiah would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit, and Matthew and Luke record that “The Coming One” also baptizes believers with fire.[1]  What is noteworthy here is the accent the Apostles put on the fact that it is Jesus who will do the baptizing.  Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and the ones who will be baptized in this passage are the believers who are present.  Luke also records in Acts 2:5 that the apostles were told by Jesus that they would soon be baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

With this background in mind, we now turn to the instances in Acts where the baptisms in the Spirit occur.  Acts 2 records the first Spirit baptism.  While the Apostles were all together, the tongues of fire fell on them and they were filled with the Spirit, and each of them miraculously started telling the mighty works of God in other tongues.  Strikingly, Peter, who was the first to deny Christ, becomes the first one to preach Christ out loud. 

The second occurrence where baptism in the Spirit is mentioned is Acts 11:16.  Here Peter is recounting to the Jerusalem believers what happened when he went to visit Cornelius, a gentile centurion.  Peter tells them that while he was speaking the Spirit fell on Cornelius and the rest of the gentiles.  Peter says that this immediately brought to his mind what Jesus had told the apostles that they will be baptized with the Spirit.  Here Peter recognizes that the gentile believers received the same gift that the Apostles did originally and identifies this as the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  One other piece of crucial information is that in verse 17, Peter continues the narrative by saying that they received the gift just like the apostles when they believed.

The only other time the language of baptism in the Spirit is used is in 1 Corinthians 12:13 where Paul tells the believers that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”  The body that believers are baptized into is the body of Christ, and so it is clear that this baptism in the Spirit coincides with union with Christ.  This means that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is something experienced at conversion.

Scriptures that Recount a Delayed Reception of the Spirit

If, as the passages reviewed suggest, the baptism in the Holy Spirit takes place at conversion, then how do we explain some texts of scripture that reveal a delayed falling of the Spirit?  J. Rodman Williams explains, “Three days after Saul’s encounter with the glorified Jesus, Ananias went to the blinded Saul…So did Saul, later to be called Paul, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”[2]  The narrative of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 seems to suggest to Williams that Paul received the Spirit after receiving salvation.  Williams argues that this is analogous to other places in acts where “the occurrence of salvation was the background for their receiving the Holy Spirit.”[3]  These seemingly unusual passages need to be looked at in some detail in order to find whether the baptism in the Spirit can occur days—even years—after conversion.

The three passages in question are Acts 8:14-17 where Philip preaches in Samaria, Acts 9:17-19 where Paul is converted, and Acts 19:1-7 where Paul confronts some disciples of John the Baptist at Ephesus.  First in Acts 8, Philip preached the gospel and many Samaritans believed and were baptized.  Upon hearing this, Peter and John were sent, and, upon arriving, they prayed and laid hands on the believers so that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  The passage is clear in that the reception of the Holy Spirit in this instance was delayed and subsequent to their conversion.  However, does the passage teach that this is the normal way that baptism in the Spirit occurs?  Dr. Gregg Allison notes that there are clues in the passage showing that this is a peculiar event and is not normative.[4]  Verse 16 indicates that what is happening is by no means the normal way believers receive the Spirit because it begins with “for he had not yet fallen on any of them.”  Luke has to add a parenthetical explanation of the situation because the Spirit does normally baptize converts when they believe.  However, since it didn’t happen in this instance, Luke needed to explain by parenthesis why two Apostles had to be sent into this abnormal situation.

Next is Paul’s conversion, and the first question that must be asked is this:  Was Paul a Christian for the three days before Ananias came to him?  I don’t think so.  Acts 22 sheds some light on Paul’s conversion.  Here Paul narrates his conversion experience and states that when Ananias came to him he said to Paul, “What are you waiting for now? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.”[5]  We see here, clearly, that it wasn’t until Ananias came and told Paul to call upon the name of Jesus that Paul became a Christian and this would coincide with the exact time that Paul would have received the Spirit.

The final incident that needs to be discussed is the conversion of the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus.  In Acts 19 Paul comes to Ephesus and asks the disciples of John, “Did you receive the Spirit when you believed?”  The very question itself indicates that Paul thought that the Spirit is received upon conversion.  However, the Ephesian disciples reply that they have never heard of the Spirit.  Paul, probably puzzled, told the Ephesians that John’s baptism was pointing forward to the one who was to come, but now Jesus has already come, died, resurrected, and ascended.  It was upon hearing about Jesus that the Ephesian disciples were baptized.  Paul then laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit fell upon them.  Here, again, we see the normal order of Spirit baptism.  You hear the word, you believe, and you are baptized into the Spirit and into water.

Conclusion and Application

Looking at the relevant texts of scripture that teach us about baptism in the Holy Spirit, we can see that the normative way this baptism is applied is immediately upon believing in Christ for the remission of sins.  Although there are texts of scripture that illustrate a delay, these texts themselves point out that such occasions were not normal and are not the way we would experience baptism in the Spirit today.  But what are we to make of all of the people who say they have experienced this delayed baptism?

This is a sensitive issue, but it needs to be addressed because I agree with Grudem that this delayed view of Spirit baptism can teach two-tier Christianity.[6]  At the same time, though, these Christians must have experienced something.  Grudem explains what this experience is convincingly in a lecture on Spirit baptism at his church.[7]  He argues that typically the charismatic Christian, in order to receive the baptism of the Spirit, typically sanctify themselves by fasting, bible reading, and dedicating many hours in prayer.  Grudem then asks the question, “What do you think happens to believers when they do this?”  The answer is that God does indeed show up in a special way; that is, it makes sense that Christians are blessed after dedicating hours and hours of their time to seeking God. 

Although this experience of God’s blessing and sanctification should not be confused with baptism in the Spirit, it is still a powerful working of God in their lives and that should always be encouraged.  What is important here is that this attitude of seeking hard after God is encouraged while also encouraging Christians to use better terminology like Grudem suggests.  Terms like “a large step of growth” or “a new empowerment for ministry” are terms that are true to the experience these believers and also refrain from accidentally teaching a two-class Christianity.[8]  If both of these are encouraged then it can produce continued holiness because people will keep seeking after God, and it will promote union in the body of Christ because all believers have been baptized in the one Spirit.  And these two things, holiness and unity, are things worth seeking in our churches.


[1] Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33.

[2] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Salvation, The Holy Spirit, and Christian living (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990),  201.

[3] Ibid, 188.

[4] Gregg R. Allison, Class Lecture: Systematic Theology III, Spring 2012, Spoken.

[5] International standard version New Testament : Version 1.1. 2000 (Print on Demand ed.) (Ac 22:16). Yorba Linda, CA: The Learning Foundation.

[6] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 775-776.

[7]Wayne Grudem, Baptism in and Filling with the Holy Spirit, [on-line], accessed 29 February 2012, http://scottsdalebible.com/assets/audio/christian-essentials/20080420WGrudem.mp3; internet.

[8] Grudem, 781.

Spirit Baptism

 

 

SPIRIT BAPTISM: PROMOTING UNITY AND HOLINESS

Issue

Every Christian believes in the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The disagreements that Christians have regarding the baptism in the Spirit concern two particular aspects of this baptism:  when is it administered and who receives it?  I will demonstrate that the bible teaches all believers in Christ are baptized into the Holy Spirit at the time of their conversion.  To do this, all of the relevant scriptures must be examined and explained together in a way that makes them cohere, and I will also interact with the differing opinions on these texts.  The texts include the references of baptism with the Spirit in the Gospels, the ensuing baptisms in Acts, and Paul’s teaching on the Spirit in his letters.

Texts that use the terms baptized in the Spirit

       I’ll begin where the gospels do.  All four of the gospels record John the Baptist’s words that the coming Messiah would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit, and Matthew and Luke record that “The Coming One” also baptizes believers with fire.[1]  What is noteworthy here is the accent the Apostles put on the fact that it is Jesus who will do the baptizing.  Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and the ones who will be baptized in this passage are the believers who are present.  Luke also records in Acts 2:5 that the apostles were told by Jesus that they would soon be baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

 

With this background in mind, we now turn to the instances in Acts where the baptisms in the Spirit occur.  Acts 2 records the first Spirit baptism.  While the Apostles were all together, the tongues of fire fell on them and they were filled with the Spirit, and each of them miraculously started telling the mighty works of God in other tongues.  Strikingly, Peter, who was the first to deny Christ, becomes the first one to preach Christ out loud. 

The second occurrence where baptism in the Spirit is mentioned is Acts 11:16.  Here Peter is recounting to the Jerusalem believers what happened when he went to visit Cornelius, a gentile centurion.  Peter tells them that while he was speaking the Spirit fell on Cornelius and the rest of the gentiles.  Peter says that this immediately brought to his mind what Jesus had told the apostles that they will be baptized with the Spirit.  Here Peter recognizes that the gentile believers received the same gift that the Apostles did originally and identifies this as the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  One other piece of crucial information is that in verse 17, Peter continues the narrative by saying that they received the gift just like the apostles when they believed.

The only other time the language of baptism in the Spirit is used is in 1 Corinthians 12:13 where Paul tells the believers that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”  The body that believers are baptized into is the body of Christ, and so it is clear that this baptism in the Spirit coincides with union with Christ.  This means that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is something experienced at conversion.

Scriptures that Recount a Delayed Reception of the Spirit

If, as the passages reviewed suggest, the baptism in the Holy Spirit takes place at conversion, then how do we explain some texts of scripture that reveal a delayed falling of the Spirit?  J. Rodman Williams explains, “Three days after Saul’s encounter with the glorified Jesus, Ananias went to the blinded Saul…So did Saul, later to be called Paul, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”[2]  The narrative of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 seems to suggest to Williams that Paul received the Spirit after receiving salvation.  Williams argues that this is analogous to other places in acts where “the occurrence of salvation was the background for their receiving the Holy Spirit.”[3]  These seemingly unusual passages need to be looked at in some detail in order to find whether the baptism in the Spirit can occur days—even years—after conversion.

The three passages in question are Acts 8:14-17 where Philip preaches in Samaria, Acts 9:17-19 where Paul is converted, and Acts 19:1-7 where Paul confronts some disciples of John the Baptist at Ephesus.  First in Acts 8, Philip preached the gospel and many Samaritans believed and were baptized.  Upon hearing this, Peter and John were sent, and, upon arriving, they prayed and laid hands on the believers so that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  The passage is clear in that the reception of the Holy Spirit in this instance was delayed and subsequent to their conversion.  However, does the passage teach that this is the normal way that baptism in the Spirit occurs?  Dr. Gregg Allison notes that there are clues in the passage showing that this is a peculiar event and is not normative.[4]  Verse 16 indicates that what is happening is by no means the normal way believers receive the Spirit because it begins with “for he had not yet fallen on any of them.”  Luke has to add a parenthetical explanation of the situation because the Spirit does normally baptize converts when they believe.  However, since it didn’t happen in this instance, Luke needed to explain by parenthesis why two Apostles had to be sent into this abnormal situation.

Next is Paul’s conversion, and the first question that must be asked is this:  Was Paul a Christian for the three days before Ananias came to him?  I don’t think so.  Acts 22 sheds some light on Paul’s conversion.  Here Paul narrates his conversion experience and states that when Ananias came to him he said to Paul, “What are you waiting for now? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.”[5]  We see here, clearly, that it wasn’t until Ananias came and told Paul to call upon the name of Jesus that Paul became a Christian and this would coincide with the exact time that Paul would have received the Spirit.

The final incident that needs to be discussed is the conversion of the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus.  In Acts 19 Paul comes to Ephesus and asks the disciples of John, “Did you receive the Spirit when you believed?”  The very question itself indicates that Paul thought that the Spirit is received upon conversion.  However, the Ephesian disciples reply that they have never heard of the Spirit.  Paul, probably puzzled, told the Ephesians that John’s baptism was pointing forward to the one who was to come, but now Jesus has already come, died, resurrected, and ascended.  It was upon hearing about Jesus that the Ephesian disciples were baptized.  Paul then laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit fell upon them.  Here, again, we see the normal order of Spirit baptism.  You hear the word, you believe, and you are baptized into the Spirit and into water.

Conclusion and Application

Looking at the relevant texts of scripture that teach us about baptism in the Holy Spirit, we can see that the normative way this baptism is applied is immediately upon believing in Christ for the remission of sins.  Although there are texts of scripture that illustrate a delay, these texts themselves point out that such occasions were not normal and are not the way we would experience baptism in the Spirit today.  But what are we to make of all of the people who say they have experienced this delayed baptism?

This is a sensitive issue, but it needs to be addressed because I agree with Grudem that this delayed view of Spirit baptism can teach two-tier Christianity.[6]  At the same time, though, these Christians must have experienced something.  Grudem explains what this experience is convincingly in a lecture on Spirit baptism at his church.[7]  He argues that typically the charismatic Christian, in order to receive the baptism of the Spirit, typically sanctify themselves by fasting, bible reading, and dedicating many hours in prayer.  Grudem then asks the question, “What do you think happens to believers when they do this?”  The answer is that God does indeed show up in a special way; that is, it makes sense that Christians are blessed after dedicating hours and hours of their time to seeking God. 

Although this experience of God’s blessing and sanctification should not be confused with baptism in the Spirit, it is still a powerful working of God in their lives and that should always be encouraged.  What is important here is that this attitude of seeking hard after God is encouraged while also encouraging Christians to use better terminology like Grudem suggests.  Terms like “a large step of growth” or “a new empowerment for ministry” are terms that are true to the experience these believers and also refrain from accidentally teaching a two-class Christianity.[8]  If both of these are encouraged then it can produce continued holiness because people will keep seeking after God, and it will promote union in the body of Christ because all believers have been baptized in the one Spirit.  And these two things, holiness and unity, are things worth seeking in our churches.


[1] Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33.

[2] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Salvation, The Holy Spirit, and Christian living (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990),  201.

[3] Ibid, 188.

[4] Gregg R. Allison, Class Lecture: Systematic Theology III, Spring 2012, Spoken.

[5] International standard version New Testament : Version 1.1. 2000 (Print on Demand ed.) (Ac 22:16). Yorba Linda, CA: The Learning Foundation.

[6] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 775-776.

[7]Wayne Grudem, Baptism in and Filling with the Holy Spirit, [on-line], accessed 29 February 2012, http://scottsdalebible.com/assets/audio/christian-essentials/20080420WGrudem.mp3; internet.

[8] Grudem, 781.

A Review of Taking Hold of God

When I see a book on prayer, it is usually and immediately followed with the Spirit’s conviction. I consider how long it has been since I last prayed or how shortsighted and local they have been. I feel overwhelmed with guilt and rightly so. I don’t usually buy that book. I, instead, veer towards the theology section to catch up on the latest arguments for God’s complete sovereignty in salvation. It is not that there is a lack of desire to learn to pray, but if only reading the title of a book on prayer convicts me then what will reading it in full do?

Taking Hold of God has been an immense blessing and encouragement in my life. Knowing that for too long prayer has been too neglected and missed far too little, it was a pleasure to be set right by these faithful puritans and reformers.

For those of us that get a sense of dread when forced to read a book on prayer (or any spiritual discipline), Taking Hold of God gives you exactly what you need without pummeling your poor soul into the dust (just don’t skip to the last chapter). With many powerful arguments, these reformed men show you the blessings and gifts that prayer offers believers–the foremost being God Himself.

The focus on prayer’s great benefits is much needed in my generation especially where loving God with all your mind seems easier to accomplish than communion with God. If you love God’s sovereignty over the nations, then how exhilarating is it to pray for those very nations knowing that God will hear you and bring His kingdom to fruition in all the earth?

In the book you will learn how and why these great men of God spent so much time in prayer–and the answer isn’t simply because it is a duty. No, rather they loved prayer, and it is the starting point for converting orthodoxy into orthopraxy. You’ve learned about God’s love, power, and grace, but it is a great thing to meet with God and experience those things in prayer.

The book is broke into multiple sections by author and emphasis. In this book you’ll find, among others, Bunyan on praying in the spirit, Perkins on the Lord’s Prayer, Edwards on prayer and the Triune God, and Matthew Henry on praying daily

Leave no doubt that these men will challenge you and convict you. However, you will get a fresh sense of how great a thing it is to pray to our Father in heaven in the name of the Son with the Spirit’s help. This book is not a quick fix for the prayerless, but it is a medicine for those who know they should pray, but don’t know how to pray, when the best time to pray is, or what blessings come with prayer.

Book Review: Parable of the Ten Virgins–Thomas Shepard

(review by me, Chadd Sheffield)

Jesus Christ relentlessly divides the world into two. There are houses built on a rock, and on sand. There are sheep, and there are goats. There is wheat and there are tares. There are trees that bear fruit, and there are thorns and thistles. And, according to Jesus in Matthew chapter 25, there are wise virgins, and there are foolish virgins; and the one you are makes all the difference here now, and in eternity.

I first came across the name Thomas Shepard while reading Jonathan Edward’s classic Religious Affections. Edwards quotes Shepard in Religious Affections more than he quotes any other author—in all of Edward’s books combined. However, it was not this recommendation from Edwards that inspired me to read Shepard’s book. The words that Edwards quoted struck my heart particularly deep, and revealed to me that I tended to trust God wrongly; that I tested myself according to my culture, that I would often times try to make my election sure by mental assent and not a full, vibrant faith and love towards the Lord. It was Thomas Shepard that revealed to me by the scriptures that a foolish virgin could have just as easily passed my tests, and then the fear of God drove me to get a deeper understanding of the differences between those beloved by God and regenerated by His Spirit, and those who—as Shepard says—love the Lord Jesus only from the teeth outward.1

At first, the size of the book and the language both make it appear that reading it may seem like a burdensome task, but I would like to propose that it shouldn’t be. Dr. John Gerstner in the foreword says, “Don’t read it. Study it, a few pages at a time; decipher it… It may not save you, but it will leave you in no doubt if you are saved, and even less if you are not!” We ought not try to just read through The Parable of The Ten Virgins. When your motive is to finish the book rather than understand it—it does become burdensome. But if your motive is to learn from the faithful expositions of God’s Word, and if your motive is to have assurance about the things of God, and if your motive is to fight to enjoy Christ here and to be prepared in the hereafter then this book is not a burden; it’s a blessing.

The book is a collection of Shepard’s sermon notes on the Parable of The Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13. He takes you verses by verse, sentence by sentence, and word by word. Though the work is a little over six-hundred pages, Shepard does not repeat himself. The points of doctrine always seem reasonable, and are never forced. It is never boring, especially when you realize his sermons are directed to you.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins is a parable that covers much of the Christian life. This is precisely the reason why Shepard has written so much concerning it. It affects how we view the church, sin, wasting our time, and assurance of salvation. It affects how we view the most important of things.

Lastly, I think this book has a prophetic message to our current generation. In every church there are foolish virgins who believe they await our Lord and it will be well with them. But the Lord knows them not, and the foolish virgins will be shut out at last—and they don’t know it! They lack oil in their vessels, but they either don’t notice, or know where to buy without price! We must not let them perish in ignorance by our slumbering. Oh, that we would wake, and pray that we ourselves do not fall into temptation, and that the knowledge of the Lord would spread through our churches and the earth—in hope that some foolish virgins would wake and get oil in their vessels before he comes to them in death or at the end of time.

Augustine: Rhetorician, Sinner, and Saint

His Salvation (long but worth it):

“And You (God) did set me face to face with myself, that I might see how ugly I was, and how crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous.  and I looked and I loathed myself; but where to fly from myself I could not discover.  ”

[through a message, this happened]

“Then, as this vehement quarrel, which I waged with my soul in the chamber of my heart, was raging inside my inner dwelling, agitated both in mind and countenance, I seized upon Alypius [his friend]and exclaimed: ‘What is the matter with us?  What is this?  What did you hear?  The uninstructed start up and take heaven, and we–with all our learning but so little heart–see where we wallow in flesh and blood!  Because others have gone before us, are we ashamed to follow, and not rather ashamed at our not following?’  I scarcely knew what I said, and in my excitement I flung away from him, while he gazed at me in silent astonishment.  For i did not sound like myself:  my face, eyes, color, tone expressed my meaning more clearly than my words.”

“I kept saying to myself, ‘See, let it be done now; let it be done now.’  And as I said this I all but came to a firm decision.  I all but did it–yet I did not quite…  It was, in fact, my old mistresses, trifles of trifles and vanities of vanities, who still enthralled me.  “They tugged at my fleshly garments and softly whispered:  ‘Are you going to part with us?  And from that moment will we never be with you any more?  And from that moment will not this and that be forbidden you forever?’ …  Still they delayed me, so that I hesitated to break loose and shake myself free of them and leap over to the place to which I was being called–for unruly habit kept saying to me, ‘Do you think you can live without them?’ ”

” I flung myself down under a fig tree–how I know not–and gave free course to my tears.  The streams of my eyes gushed out an acceptable sacrifice to you.  And, not indeed in these words, but to this effect, I cried to you: ‘And you, O Lord, how long?  How long, O Lord?  Will you be angry forever?  Oh, remember not against us our former iniquities.’  For I felt that I was still enthralled by them.  I sent up these sorrowful cries: ‘ How long, how long?  Tomorrow and tomorrow?  Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?’ ”

“I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which–coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.’ …  So, damning the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon…  So I quickly returned  to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left there.  I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell:  ‘Not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:13-14) I wanted to read no further, nor did i need to.  For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.”

Augustine: Rhetorician, Sinner, and Saint

Augustine on

Beauty:

“These things I did not understand at that time, and I loved those inferior beauties [that is, inferior to God’s beauty], and I was sinking down to the very depths.  And I said to my friends:  “Do We love anything but the beautiful?  What then is the beautiful?  And what is beauty?  What is it that allures and unites us to the things we love; for unless there were a grace and beauty in them, they could not possibly attract us to them?”  And I reflected on this and saw that in the objects themselves there is a kind of beauty which comes from their forming a whole and another kind of beauty that comes from mutual fitness–as the harmony of one part of the body with its whole, or a shoe with a foot, and so on.  And this idea sprung up in my mind out of my inmost heart, and I wrote some books–two or three, I think–On the Beautiful and the Fitting. You know them,  O Lord; they have escaped my memory.  I no longer have them somehow they have been mislaid….  But I had not seen how the main point in these great issues lay really in your craftsmenship, O Omnipotent One, “who alone does great wonders.” (ps. 72:18)

Augustine on his blindness to the Scriptures prior to the Holy Spirit’s work

“I resolved, therefore, to direct my mind to the Holy Scriptures, that I might see what they were.  And behold, I saw something not comprehended by the proud, not disclosed to children, something lowly in the hearing, but sublime in the doing, and veiled in mysteries.  Yet I was not of the number of those who could enter into it or bend my neck to follow its steps.  For then it was quite different from what I now feel.  When I then turned toward the Scriptures, they appeared to me to be quite unworthy to be compared to the dignity of Tully.  For my inflated pride was repelled by their style, nor could the sharpness of my wit penetrate their meaning.  Truly they were of a sort to aid the growth of little ones, but I scorned to be a little one and, swollen with pride, I looked upon myself as fully-grown.”