Tag Archives: Power

Why the Holy Spirit?

by Scott

I would have to say that the second most important event of history, second only to the resurrection of Jesus, is that of the pouring out of the Spirit recorded in Acts 2. So important was it!

Now, what we must realise is that the feast of Pentecost had been annually celebrated for some time. It was connected to the feast of Shavuot, where the Jews also remembered the giving of the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai.

So Acts 2 was not the recording of the first Pentecost. Hence, Luke’s words here: When the day of Pentecost arrived…(Acts 2:1). They were already expecting Pentecost to come. I’m just not sure they were fully expecting the fruitful harvest that came on that particular Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. A greater gift was given here than at Mt. Sinai!

What had been intimated at and prophesied about for centuries past (see Numbers 11:24-30; Isaiah 32:14-15; 44:3; Joel 2:26-29), and promised by Jesus himself (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:4-5), had finally arrived. No longer was the Holy Spirit to be given to only a select few. He was to be given and poured out on all God’s people, no distinction made – male/female, young/old, Jew/Greek.

The Messianic age would also be marked as the age of the Holy Spirit! Fantastic news, no doubt.

But, one might ask: Why the Holy Spirit? Why was he given?

Good question. And while Scripture does not answer every single question we ask, it seems to clearly answer this question. It’s recorded by Luke, coming from the lips of Jesus.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Pretty clear, heh?

This statement in the early words of Acts stands as the thesis statement for the whole book. The account of Acts would be an outworking of this one statement. The Spirit would be given, and through such an event of extreme import, the people of God would be empowered witnesses.

This was not something for a group of twelve, or a group of twelve and a few other special people. Again, this was a reality for all of God’s people. Remember, the Spirit would not differentiate via gender or age or social barriers. This is one reason why Peter quotes Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18; quoting Joel 2:28-29)

So, reason number 1 for the Spirit being given – that we might receive power and that we might be his witnesses. If there is anything that should mark the life of the Christ-follower it should be the power of the Spirit and the power of the Spirit to be his witnesses. No, I do not only mean that we all must be used in miracles and healings, though I am definitely not opposed to such. Rather, we are to know the power of God across all areas our lives. The power of God is to be available in every aspect, leading to a life that seasons with salt and shines with light.

I cannot imagine anything less.

So, as I shared in my last post, the Spirit of God was not given to ‘maintain the status quo’. It was not given to make sure we hold together nice meetings, a prayer meeting here, a Bible study there, a fellowship meal here, a finance meeting there. None of those are bad in and of themselves. But they are not necessarily the fruit of Acts 1:8, especially if it is tied into solely maintaining the status quo.

Can you imagine Acts 1:8 saying this?

But you will receive the ability to maintain the status quo when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you might possibly be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

I’m sorry, but I can honestly say I would not want any part of that. The Spirit was not given to make sure we all live out a nice and comfortable life in Christ. The Spirit was given that we might be empowered witnesses. Acts 1:8 does not get any clearer.

I am stirred deep by the reality of the reason the Holy Spirit was given when reading Acts 1:8.

The second reason the Spirit is given, not that it is subservient to the first reason I pointed out, is found in the very first verse of Acts 1:

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach. (Acts 1:1)

Luke’s first volume, the Gospel of Luke, was an account of the things Jesus began to do and teach. Jesus was not finished. He had more to accomplish and say. Hence, he poured out the Spirit to continue his work, for the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus (see Acts 16:7; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19).

But, though the Lord of heaven and earth, as one man, accomplished quite a lot, he was not able to accomplish all as that one human being. Remember, he did not grasp at his equality as the divine (Philippians 2:6).

So, as I have emphasised, to continue his powerful work, Jesus pours out his Spirit to empower an entire body, though that body started at about 120 (Acts 1:15). Hence, why his words in John 14:12 make a lot of sense:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

Not a select few, but whoever believes. I know there are plenty to argue that this does not mean everyone, since Jesus was only talking to the disciples-apostles. Or that this does not really mean all of Christ’s works, since some of those works are not needed much any more because the gospel has spread enough and we have the testimony of Scripture.

I am glad that gospel has spread, though I am not sure we understand the power of the gospel at times, and I am glad we have the God-breathed Scripture. But I am not sure whoever believes can be any clearer as to whom Jesus envisioned when he uttered those words. Suffice it to say, I am clear on what Jesus clearly meant – whoever believes. But if you want more to chew on, here is a great article to read.

Now, let me also note that I do not believe the ‘greater works’ is so much speaking qualitatively as it is speaking quantitatively. You get me? We can’t really walk out much greater a manifestation of the works and power of God than raising the dead, healing the blind, seeing withered hands restored, etc. Thus, I believe this is speaking more about the whole Spirit-empowered body of Christ being able to accomplish more than the Son of God as one human being.

Can you imagine millions and billions of Christ-followers empowered with the same Spirit? I’m thinking greater works, quantitatively. Remember, the same Spirit that Jesus relied on in the flesh, even post-resurrection (see Acts 1:2), is the one who indwells and empowers the body of Christ now.

Of course, I am not so silly as to believe that John 14:12 is only speaking of major manifestations of God’s power through healings and miracles. The works of Jesus include compassion for the hurting, mercy for the downtrodden, food to the homeless, respect and love for our spouses, tender care for our children, overcoming the temptation of the enemy and flesh, etc, etc. But I could never deny and step back from recognising that the works of Jesus also include healings and miracles and other demonstrations of the powerful work of the Spirit. We cannot argue our way out of this one.

Again, whoever believes in me will also….

So, why was the Spirit given? Simply put: 1) to continue the works of Jesus and 2) to empower God’s people as witnesses, so that those works might continue. This didn’t stop with Jesus. And this didn’t conclude with Acts 28. This has been continuing for some 2000 years and will continue on until all is accomplished and he returns to marry his prepared bride.

Oh, that we might know his power.

Maintaing the Status Quo

by Scott

In my recent renewed revelation of the power of God, one thing that has continually been highlighted to me is the reality that, so many times, we are content with simply maintaining the status quo.

As I noted in my article earlier this week, in every situation of life, there is a way things are supposed to happen. At work it might be that we arrive at 9.00, have coffee break at 10.30, lunch at 12.30, and so on. That is the status quo. And we have plenty of examples within the church, the people of God.

And while this is not inherently bad, I have recently become very aware that God is not calling His Spirit-empowered people to simply maintain the status quo. You know how this plays out in the life of the church. Well, for starters, we end up ‘playing’ church. We end up coming to our gatherings with a prescribed layout of the way things should and ought to be done. Kind of like children playing house. They aren’t really adults with their own house and children and stove to cook meals on. They just act as if it’s true.

And how much of what we do is centred around ‘playing’ church, rather than being and walking out all that God has called us to. I’ve been so caught up with this for two years now. Of course, I wanted pastoral wisdom in helping a multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-church background community at Cornerstone move forward in the things of God. But God finally made me aware that it is time to move forward with purpose and power. No maintaining the status quo any longer.

Listen, we have to hear and obey the voice of God. That is what this present stirring is all about for me. But hearing and obeying God will not be about maintaining the status quo. It will not be about simply keeping things as they are. If anything, the body is headed towards maturity. We are preparing a people to marry Jesus. Just getting by doesn’t prepare anyone.

And so I don’t want to get caught up in the meaninglessness of simply holding things together, maintaining how its ‘supposed’ to be. It’s not healthy, and it definitely doesn’t give much room for the reality of the power of God and the message to Belgium and beyond that God Is Alive! How tragic if, at the end of our lives, our greatest story is that we maintained the status quo! How tragic! But, at this point, many of us are simply satisfied with such. I know I was. I only hope that a shake up comes when we realise that our end story will simply be that we maintained the status quo.

And, even more, we can so easily get caught up in making a contract with Jesus on a regular basis of how we want this thing to go: Jesus, I’ll follow you, but let’s just set out some things that I would like. I’ll follow you, just make sure that I have not only what I need, but a few extra’s on the side. Or a nice amount of extra’s if at all possible. Make sure that I don’t have to give too much of my resources, not too much of my time, not too much of my finances. Jesus, I’ll follow you, but let’s just make sure that I don’t get put in too many uncomfortable situations. Yeah, I think I can follow you if we can agree on those things.

Now, of course, to maintain the status quo, we would never verbally admit such. But we do live our lives with that modus operandi. It simply has taken over life in the western world.

Listen, you have to understand. I don’t usually talk like this. I don’t usually bring strong rebuke. But I am completely aware of how ungodly and how selfish and what an idol maintaining the status quo has become in my life and our lives in the west. It has simply become the way of life and we don’t even recognise it for what it is.

And so this sucks the life and power of God right out of us. No wonder the Chinese, who are currently seeing the masses turn to Christ and seeing the power of God on display in a real sense, are praying that persecution does not stop. They don’t want to maintain the status quo. They want to maintain a pure faith.

I am now very aware that if I want to see the power of God active in my life and in the life of God’s people universal, then we have to lay down our god-idol of maintaining the status quo. The goal is not that we now become crazy’s, though I do recognise that God has called His people at times to crazy things – think Isaiah walking around for naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-3), think of Ezekiel baking his bread over fecies (Ezekiel 4:15), think of Jesus and His spitting ministry when healing others (Mark 7:33; 8:23; John 9:6-7).

But we don’t do things for the sake of doing things. We don’t become crazy for the sake of being crazy. We hear God…….and then we obey. And God is making clearer and clearer that a Spirit-empowered people are not called to maintain the status quo. We are called to so much more, starting with being witnesses, as well as moving towards unity and maturity.

Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you. (Ephesians 5:14)

Oh, that we might be saved from such an ungodly bondage as simply maintaining the status quo.

Change Has Come

by Scott

It’s been quite a while since I last posted an article anywhere in the blogosphere, especially at my home base at The Prodigal Thought or here at To Be Continued. That’s a bit of an oddity for me, since I love to write. It has been a passion of mine going strong now for just over 2 years. So for me to not post anything in 9 days, well, that’s not usual.

But I suppose the usual and the norm for me will change.

Why? Because change has drastically happened to me.

Actually, I’m not sure what the norm will be with regards to blogging. Nor do I know what the norm will be for me when it comes to reading. Reading is my second passion. I’m always reading: theology, devotional, fiction, or maybe even other things here and there.

But, with not blogging for a week and a half, and only reading the better part of a handful of pages outside of Scripture, well, again, those who know me would wonder what is going on. It’s not the norm.

So why the lack? Again, I can only describe it as radical change has come to my life.

But what is that change?

Well, I had posted a few times on my personal blog that we, at Cornerstone, were hosting two training conferences this summer: 1) VMI, which had to do with music and worship training and 2) Fast Forward, which had to do with more ministry-leadership training. Both times were simply excellent. You can listen to or download all 12 speaker-teaching sessions from our podcast site.

During these two training times, there were purposeful gatherings of worship, times of waiting on God to hear from Him, deep prayer and intercession, as well as hearing God speak revelations via prophecies of who He is and His purposes into the Brussels area and beyond.

For some, this sounds off-the-wall crazy. But, oh well. I can only say that God truly made Himself known – not just in the teachings, though those were excellent, but also in the times where space was created to hear from God and respond to Him.

But, the ironic thing was that, for me, the most radical, life-changing moment came for me the following day with both conferences already concluded. My wife and I were having a nice Thai dinner together with some friends when God decided to reveal Himself to me in a most significant way.

During our conversations, and at one particular moment, God decided to give me a renewed revelation of His power. It was nothing insignificant with a little nod as I stated, ‘Yeah, that’s good.’ The conversation set something in motion where I could only sit there a stirred man in awe of the power of God.

He specifically brought to me a renewed revelation of His power – the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of His kingdom, and the power of the gospel to change lives. I was already aware of these things in my life, and Scripture definitely testifies to God’s power in these specific areas! But this past Wednesday evening, as I joined together with those close friends over a meal of Thai curry and Pad Thai noodles, God made His power so real and clear to me.

Therefore, I cannot expect my life to ever be the same. I am not one to hype up things nor ‘jump on a bandwagon’, as we say in English. So, for me, this is not just emotionalism. This is knowing the clear reality that God has revealed Himself, and revealed something significantly at that.

I cannot say I know what it will all look like. I simply know that God has spoken and I must obey. For as Scripture says, ‘Today, if you here His voice do not harden your hearts…’ (Hebrews 3:7-8). Again, I have heard and I can only obey what He is saying.

And I am very aware that God will begin to work such a reality into the Cornerstone church community, the Brussels area, even into Belgium and beyond. That is how real this revelation is, this is how real God has made Himself known to me.

Within the first words of the book of Acts, we read about two very important characteristics about the people of God:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

We are to be a people empowered by the Spirit, and as we are, we will be His witnesses. It’s not that we might be or could be, but that we WILL BE. This is the empowered church!

Therefore, I can no longer simply be satisfied with maintaining the status quo. That is not what God has called us to. What I mean is that, in every situation of life, there is a way things are supposed to happen. At work it might be that we arrive at 9.00, have coffee break at 10.30, lunch at 12.30, and so on. That is the status quo. And while this is not bad, I am very aware that God is not calling His Spirit-empowered people to simply maintain the status quo. Life in God is about so much more. No, God is not calling us to confusion. But God is calling us to obey what He is saying and doing.

In the end, from a human perspective, it is much easier to try and control the situation as best we can. It really is so much easier to not learn to be a people who rely completely on the Holy Spirit, looking to see His power at work in our midst. To consider such can make us uncomfortable. But I can no longer try and control what He is doing, for I do not want to be guilty of grieving the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30).

And so, if you haven’t sensed it yet, I am completely gripped with the reality of the power of God. Again, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God’s kingdom rule and the power of the gospel to change lives. And I cannot make apologies for what my life will look like from here on out. I don’t know the specifics of what it will all look like. I expect to be surprised after receiving this fresh understanding of His power. I expect to see lives changed. I expect to see healings and miracles. I expect to see people drawn to Christ. I expect to see major impact. And I expect something to start stirring and shaking beyond me and my church community. This will move into Brussels, into all of Belgium, and even beyond.

Matter of fact, since last Wednesday evening, the phrase that God keeps impressing upon my heart is – God Is Alive. I believe this is a specific message that Brussels, and Belgium, and even western Europe, needs to hear afresh. A land which has had a rich heritage of the things of Christ, such a reality has now fallen to the wayside. And people here need to know just this – God Is Alive! A God who is powerful is one who is truly alive, and a God who is alive is one who is truly powerful. There is no one like Jesus Christ!

Consequently, as I’ve siad, I know my life will not be the same. I must proclaim the powerful message of Christ and His kingdom (Matthew 4:23; 1 Corinthians 4:20), the powerful work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:4), and the power of the gospel to change lives (Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). I must proclaim to the people in Belgium that God Is Alive. He is alive and He will again show His power.

So, as to blogging (and reading), at this point, I don’t know how often. I haven’t really wanted to do so much at all, which is another pointer as to how real and deep this truly is. I’m willing to lay aside such for a time, or for all time. I am not sure at this point. It’s just not as important as proclaiming that which God has made known. I cannot see myself doing anything else.

If you would like to hear more of what I shared with Cornerstone this past Sunday, as sometimes verbal media is more helpful than typed media, you can click on the icon below. Or you can download from our podcast site or iTunes.

Is That What History Really Teaches Us? (Response to CMP, part 5)

By Marv

This post is part of a series responding to C. Michael Patton’s eight-part series at Parchment and Pen “Why I am Not Charismatic,” which is also conveniently available for download as a single e-book here. This is in response to part five.

Michael,

The unspoken premise behind your historical argument is that over the centuries the church has looked pretty much the way Jesus intended.  Really?  Anything that goes missing, then, is like the dog that didn’t bark, prima facie evidence that the thing has dried up at the source.  It is something that God just isn’t doing any more.  Once we start playing that game, however, it is difficult to know when to stop.

There are a number of ways to respond to your part five, “An Argument from History.”  As for your specific citations of Chrysostom and Augustine, Scott has countered these quite handily in an earlier post here.  Jesse Wisnewski makes a similar argument at Reformed and Reforming here, and also makes the observation here that it illustrates the fallacy of an argument from ignorance.  Then there’s the point that you take us on a snipe hunt for the elusive “supernatural sign gifts”, showing that if you set your definitions and expectations just right, you can be assured of coming up empty handed.  This is your own “glaring weakness” in commenting on about Jack Deere’s argument, where you say:

He equates evidence that the historic church believed in the miraculous with evidence that they were continuationists. You can’t equate the two without misrepresenting what is at stake.  The historic Christian church has believed in the miraculous, they have not believed in the continuation of the supernatural sign gifts, by and large.

On the contrary, Michael, I’m afraid it is you who have misrepresented the situation by insisting on your own minimalist definition.  Continuationism in the first place is not about “gifts” but that Jesus Christ:

…continues His work of glorifying His Father, building His Church, and advancing His Kingdom through the ongoing, vital and dynamic interconnection He maintains with those who are in Him, accomplished through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit…

From my earlier post “What Continues?

This empowering presence is referenced in a number of forms such as prayer in Jesus’ name (John 14:13-14), the prayer of faith for healing (Jas. 5:15), and signs and wonders (Acts 4:30).  The phenomenon that this empowerment is parceled out through the different members of the body gives rise to the concept of “gifts” (1 Cor. 12:4).  Parallel terms here include “service,” (v. 5), “activities” (v. 6), “manifestations” (v. 7).  Elsewhere they are called “distributions” (Heb. 2:4, though typically translated “gifts”).

Isolating the term “gifts” only serves to distort the issue, particularly when pared down to the scripturally dubious category “sign gifts.”  This category serves as a nice sharp container where the used, hazardous and unwanted bits may be safely disposed of, but it is not only absent from church history, it doesn’t even appear in the Bible (more here.)  And I’ll have more to say as I respond to your part seven.

I want to take a somewhat different tack, however, in responding to your argument from history.  As I suggest in my first paragraph, the same kind of disappearing act occurs with other aspects of apostolic teaching, and I don’t think you, at least, would see these as evidence God is no longer doing that sort of thing.

1.  Salvation by grace alone through faith alone.  It is amazing how the sharp edge of this central apostolic truth goes blunt shortly after the death of the apostles.  The Shepherd of Hermas, for example (ca. AD 150), which is listed among the “Apostolic Fathers” proclaims that once you are baptized, you can sin and repent only one time (Mandate 4, chapter 3).  If this were true, we’d all be toast, of course.  Thank God for the butter of His grace!

We again pick up a clear understanding of grace with the Protestant Reformation, but what are we to say about the intervening centuries?  The truth wasn’t completely absent, but unmixed expressions of it are scarce for several centuries.  We now have some five centuries since the doctrine’s recovery, but do we conclude that in the interval God had withdrawn sola gratia?

2.  Believer’s baptism.  Speaking of baptism, I understand your ministry statement of faith is deliberately short and broad, but I think you personally hold to believer’s baptism by immersion, if I am not mistaken.  At any rate, I think this was the “normative” apostolic practice, but it did not fare so well in the history of the church.  Even the Protestant Reformation largely did not restore this, except in what some would designate as “fringe groups and cults.”  Some really do argue for de facto paedobaptism from the course of history.  Would you?

3.  Premillennialism.  Understand that I am directing this specifically to you, Michael.  A number of people will not agree with this point, including Scott, but it is given as an example.  I believe you hold that the apostolic hope was premillennial, but that this understanding disappeared for the most part early in church history.  It had a resurgence around the nineteenth century.  So in the sweep of history, it is not that different from the time frame you attribute to continuationism, which you say was not “in any way normative before the twentieth century.”

This historical premise is definitely used by some as an argument against premillennialism.  What about you?  Are you a de facto amillennialist?

So what do we really learn from history?  Don’t we end up proving a little too much if we take your approach?

These are just a few of examples.  You could probably suggest any number of reasons why particular doctrines or practices ceased to be “normative” over the years, without suggesting that God was “no longer doing that.”  Indeed, we ought to exhaust every other possibility before going with that option.  Ignorance?  Tradition?  Clerical status?  Biblical illiteracy?  Misunderstanding?  Distortion over time?  Fear?  Disbelief?  Poor leadership?  Politics?

The church is often likened to a ship.  Over the years wooden sailing vessels require periodic maintenance.  Their bottoms becomes fouled and their wood suffers from rot.  The barnacles need to be scraped off and the original woodwork restored.  Unfortunately, some of our ecclesiastical institutions of long standing over time became in many ways more barnacle than timber.

From time to time more extensive refits have been necessary. The best known is probably the Protestant Reformation, which largely focused on soteriology.  Today, I humbly suggest,  it is time for recovering apostolic pneumatology.

Semper reformanda.

Renewed Emphasis on the Spirit

by Scott

I am not a man of nostalgia. I don’t particularly like to look back and wonder where the good ol’ days have gone. I recognise that a true disciple of the kingdom is one who brings out of his treasure both new and old (Matthew 13:52). Yet, I am one who is ever looking to keep his eyes fixed on the future, to where God is taking us. Thus, I hope you understand why I am not usually so stuck on reminiscing.

Yet, I will be honest, sometimes I long for God’s people to recover something, or someone, that can seem more active in the past than in the present. His name is Holy Spirit. I do believe that my generation has lost a little confidence in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve heard countless stories of what the Holy Spirit did in the 1960’s and 1970’s, especially in the UK. And, yes, it was amazing and exciting. But the one word wrong with the previous sentence is this – WAS.

In one of Jesus’ last discourses before His crucifixion, He told His friends this:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever. (John 14:16)

The Holy Spirit was to be ‘another Helper’, just as if Christ Himself were actually there in the flesh. Jesus even had the audacity to say:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

An advantage, eh? How in the world is this an advantage?

Because Jesus would be able to pour out on all of God’s people the long awaited blessing – the Holy Spirit. The Spirit would be God Himself living inside and empowering His people to change planet earth. And so I believe we must have a renewed emphasis on the person of the Godhead who has come to be with us, live in us and clothe us.

In looking to be stirred towards a renewed emphasis, I highlight three points about the work of the Spirit:

1) Reason

We could easily ask the simple question, ‘Why has the Holy Spirit come?’ It is a good question, no, even more, a vital question to the life of the body of Christ in the world. And I do believe that Jesus made it quite clear as to the reason why the Holy Spirit has come. It is found in a very familiar Scripture:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

There it is! That is the reason! The Holy Spirit has been sent and He has come to empower God’s people to complete the task for which God has called us – to be witnesses in all the earth. The Holy Spirit was not given mainly for tingles, nor to try and contain Him in our Sunday gatherings, but all that we might walk in the power of God so that we are equipped for serving and reaching others in our generation.

Amazingly, Jesus was not even afraid to say this about those who would believe in Him:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

As Christ went back to His Father, He would send the Spirit, and by the Spirit’s power we, as a company of God’s people, would be able to do greater works than Christ Himself. Not a qualitatively greater work, but a quantitatively greater work. One can do a lot, but billions can accomplish quite a lot more. And it is estimated that there are now well over one billion followers of Jesus in the earth.

Remember, what Christ says, He will make sure it comes true!

And so, we are challenged to remember the reason for which the Holy Spirit has come – to empower the saints to accomplish the work of God in reaching to the ends of the earth.

2) Revelation

Next, we need to consider that the Spirit is the Spirit of revelation. We are all probably familiar with this passage, which many love to quote:

No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

There is a song that is sung these days quoting this Scripture, one I even enjoy singing. But we need to read on, at least for one more verse:

But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (2:10)

How about that? There was a day in which many things were hidden in God, for even Jesus declared:

For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13:17)

But we live in a day in which the things of God have been revealed, and even are being revealed, by His Spirit.

Yes, we still live in an age in which we ‘prophesy in part’ (1 Corinthians 13:9). And I believe there will always be things which will not be revealed (see Deuteronomy 29:29; Isaiah 55:8-9). But we are still getting glimpses, we are still called to hear the voice of the Spirit who lives within in us.

Some will argue that 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 is speaking about God’s revelation to the first apostles, and thus, this does not apply to us. And, granted, I do understand such an argument. But, remember we have the same Spirit dwelling within us as the first apostles, and thus, we are an apostolic people called to hear our God in our generation.

This does not mean we write another letter to add to Scripture, nor does it mean this revelation will not be in line with what He has revealed in through the whole tenor of Scripture. But, I am convinced God is calling His people to be a verse 10 people, one by which He continues to reveal to us His heart by the Spirit of God.

When is the last time we heard Him speak? Whether it is in the gentle voice as with Elijah (1 Kings 19:12-13) or in the whirlwind as with Job (Job 38:1), we desperately need to hear from the Holy Spirit. Listen to what Jesus said about our ears:

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. (Matthew 13:16)

We have One who lives in us that is a friend, One who wants to speak to us. Remember that He is another exactly like Jesus. With His presence within, it should be as if Jesus were right here with us. I know this is challenging, but I want to be drawn in and cultivate a deeper, intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.

3) Response

Finally, if the Spirit is one who speaks, then we must, as the people of God, be willing to respond to His voice. The writer to the Hebrews reminds the Jewish believers of his day:

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (Hebrews 4:7)

Now, as encouragement, keep in mind that we have been given new hearts by the One who drew us to Himself (see Ezekiel 36:26). We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). So we are actually at an advantage in responding to our God.

I, myself, want to understand more and more what Paul meant when He exhorted the believers in Ephesus:

Do no grieve the Holy Spirit of God. (Ephesians 4:30)

In the context, Paul is probably referring to the words that come from our mouths (see 4:29). Oh, that only blessing would come from my lips, emulating the One whose words were gracious (Luke 4:22). But I believe grieving the Holy Spirit can go beyond just our words. The Spirit is speaking. Thus, I want to be listening. But I don’t want to stop there. I want to be obedient to His voice.

Interestingly enough, when the Scripture speaks of God hearing our prayers, it is actually referring to His response to our prayers (see Psalm 6:9; 66:19). The same is to stand true for us. We are to be hearers of God’s voice and responders.

Before Stephen was stoned, he told the Sanhedrin:

Our fathers refused to obey him. (Acts 7:39)

Oh, that we would not be like the Israelites who very rarely listened to and responded to the voice of God. Oh, that we would not grieve our great Friend who dwells within.

I believe that, as we bear in mind the reason the Spirit was given, the revelation of the Spirit and our response to the Spirit, we will begin to walk out the greater works which Christ has called us to. These are the days following Pentecost in which Christ gives the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). Let a passion be rekindled within us to pursue such a relationship with the Holy Spirit.