The Holy Spirit – An Introduction, Part Two

First, a short prayer—Thank You, Father God, for the compass of Your Word.  Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit Who distills and instills Your Word into our lives.  We want to know You, Lord, in a more intimate, deeper walk.  Teach us how to be truly teachable. We ask these things in Jesus’ precious name because they will honor and glorify You. Amen.

I asked in an earlier post why it is that we believers in the conservative American church know far less about and acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s daily role in our lives, as compared to the Father and to Jesus.  I received some interesting answers.  Most folks can’t really seem to put their finger on the reason.

Maybe it has to do with what we believe about God:

  • The Holy Spirit is not set forth in Scripture as the Object or Initiator in the work of atoning salvation as the Father and Son are.
  • Or because the Father and Son are constantly associated with each Other in Scripture, and no personal declarations are ever recorded as coming from the Spirit.
  • Or better yet, the Spirit’s work as Executor of God’s will is often attributed in an impersonal way to God in general, instead of specifically to Him.

Each of these reasons has its own merits.  However, I think it has less to do with theology than it does our own deep-seated fears.

  • Fear of swinging too far towards emotionalism in the Spirit realm.  Please don’t make us like that charismatic group down the street that gets all hyped up and “lets loose” in the church house.
  • Fear of what God might want or require of us, should we really get to know Him in an intimate way.  Please, Lord, I don’t want You to send me to be a missionary overseas.
  • Perhaps it’s just due to our comfortable-where-I’m-at, laissez-faire way of living in the States.  American Christians (and I include myself in this) have become attendance-driven, entertainment-seeking consumers.  Too many times we often look like, act like the world.  We don’t relate well at all to the picture of a self-sacrificing servant, keenly attuned to the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice.   That level of Christianity is best suited to the most dedicated, to the most spiritual among us.  We’re not ready to go to that kind of trouble. Yet.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear.  The something that most of us feel is deeply missing from our churches and lives is actually a Someone, the third Person of the Trinity, God’s palpable presence in our world.

Frances Chan in his excellent book Forgotten God says:

Without Him [the Holy Spirit], people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results.  The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation.  And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit.  But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural.  The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.

If we are honest, we admit we’ve missed the boat much of the time in experiencing the Spirit.  To see this first-hand, one only needs to travel any of several places around the globe where God’s Church is Spirit-rich.  Those local bodies are full of His workings and there in their midst, we are the real paupers.  These impoverished, often persecuted believers have no recourse but to depend on the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives, or they perish.  The evidence?  Outpourings of spiritual blessings abound.  Lives are supernaturally changed.  Laid side-by-side next to a description of the first-century church, they resemble the early church much more than we do.

Then how do we, the American conservative church,experience the Holy Spirit more richly? How do we change the status quo?

Or is the real question:  Do we want to change?

God wants humble hearts.  Teachable spirits.  We may already possess some biblical head knowledge of the Spirit.  But unless that knowledge makes its way down into the heart, and into a tender heart at that, the Spirit’s work in us will be stunted, repressed, quenched.   God wants so much to display Himself through His people.  And to what end?  You know this already—it is because He intensely desires to draw all men (and women, and children) to a saving grace of Jesus Christ.

So a fervent desire for more of Him, in cooperation with a thorough examination of the Scriptures— to make sure we’re seeing things the way God sees it—is the path to discovering the Person of the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit reveals His special work from the beginning of Genesis creation, until the end of days in Revelation’s apocalypse.  In future posts, we’ll examine the Holy Spirit’s attributes and roles throughout Scripture and glean what this means for us as believers.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Eph. 5:16-17

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