THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
Part 3: Significance without Fear
By Christopher Schwinger
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Continued from Page One
This is why I have mixed feelings about some of the Old Testament stories where miracles' purpose, or at least result, is to frighten people into submission to God. Jesus explains the function of His miracles in John 5:36: "But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish — the very works that I do — testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me." In John 8:49-51, He gives His purpose statement: "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." The purpose of it all is to free us from the curse of death, not to show off! When I discovered in the summer of 2014 the "Show me the Father" passage in John 14:7-9 (which you should definitely read in the context of the surrounding chapters), I saw that Jesus' disciples were wanting more supernatural powers like Adam and Eve and forgetting that these exist for the purpose of blessing others, so that when you bless others, it redounds to you in a deep way.
It sounds to me like the rhetoric in the "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" statement is conveying the idea that His own name being blasphemed is unimportant, because they're not blaspheming Him, but "Him who sent Me" (the Father and Holy Spirit). They're blaspheming God, not just a man, when they blaspheme Jesus. Blaspheming Jesus is wrong, since He is innocent of any crimes, but that's a sin against a man, but when they do that in spite of the evidence He furnishes of His divine authority, they are committing a sin against heaven which will never be forgiven (unless they repent, I would add). The heaven and earth distinction in rhetoric was common in rabbinical style of Jesus' era, and is also part of the Book of Hebrews, Jesus' "If I showed you earthly things, and you didn't believe, how will you believe heavenly things?" (John 3:12), and 1 John's "How can he love God whom he has not seen if he doesn't love his brother whom he has seen?" (1 John 4:20).
The wording of Luke 12:8-10 provides me with an additional point:
And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.If Jesus meant this literally rather than rhetorically, then those verses are self-contradictory, because Jesus said identifying with Him is how to find favor on Judgment Day, but then says blaspheming Him is an acceptable sin — if it's meant literally. This is rabbinical rhetoric. In the Book of Romans, Paul says that the existence of a written moral law raises the standard so that there is greater judgment. That's what Jesus is getting at in His statement about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. "To whom much is given, much is required" (Luke 12:48) applies to anything in life, including our possessions meant for others' betterment and the truth we are given.
The two possibilities I see of how this "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" issue could be interpreted are 1) Jesus is condemning them because they rejected "Him who sent Me" by rejecting the evidence, because He represents heaven and is not just a man of this earth or 2) He was saying people can get to a point of rejecting Him willfully, and being unredeemable, so that nothing will ever change their minds. That happens to some people, I believe.
In parts 4-5, I will incorporate this into the issue of how people can change from self-centered, self-protective, and self-reliant, to being truly gracious.
Image Credit: ClkerFreeVectorImages; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Controversial-Issues | Jesus-Christ | Theological-Beliefs
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