I’m preaching on the Holy Spirit and learning more and inviting the Spirit’s presence more into my life, family’s life, and church’s life than I ever have.
There is so much to learn and live about the Holy Spirit. Is the Holy Spirit a person like God the Father and the Son? If the Holy Spirit is a person, then how do we interact with the Spirit? Do we have a human spirit and the Holy Spirit also inhabits us? What is the work of the Holy Spirit? What has the Spirit done through the biblical story, from Genesis on? Does the Holy Spirit convict us of sin? How can we sin against the Holy Spirit?
These are just a few of the many questions that I’ve sought wisdom about, on behalf of the congregation. I’m not “answering,” them, nor am I just covering them as FAQs, but instead taking texts from Old Testament to New Testament in order starting from Genesis to discover through these narratives how the Holy Spirit has acted and continues to act today. Last week I even re-titled a book, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” A church father had named “Acts of the Apostles” but it seems more appropriate to title it for the main character that’s mentioned nearly 50 times: The Acts of the Holy Spirit. I don’t count on the name catching but it’s worth a try!
From the beginning I’ve sought to be guided by the Bible but not in the sense of the “word-only” view that the Spirit works only through the teachings of the Bible. The Spirit blows where it wants (John 3), and God’s Spirit acts and speaks powerfully today. But the Holy Spirit is not what you think it is, nor what I think it is. I’ve tried to interact with what Scripture says the Spirit does and how Christ interacted with the Spirit and the Spirit has created, empowered, led, counseled, raised up Christ and does the same for us. The Spirit is not just what we think it is but what the Bible says the Spirit is and does, and we live into that.
In this series, I’m calling for what Tim Woodroof calls, “the Spirit for the rest of us.” In other words, with the “word-only” view on one side and Charismatics on the other, what is a middle way? A middle way for those who believe the Spirit is more active than just in word-only sense but may also be hesitant to take all of Charismatic teaching, such as tongues speaking. I believe there is a middle way, and a way to let the Spirit blow where it wants.
There’s something in each of these three views that’s of value. The word guides us in our exploration of the Spirit. Tongues are a reality and Paul never denied that in his letters or teachings, but he regulated them by love. And even a middle way is not intended as a rut but in this middle way there is an openness to the boundaries of Scripture on one side and the passion of the Charisma on the other. So in our community, we can open the Bible and invite the Spirit to direct us, convict us, counsel us anew. And that’s what we’re trying to do.
Lehman, Chester K. The Holy Spirit and the Holy Life. Herald Press, 1959
Satyavrata, Ivan. The Holy Spirit: Lord and Life-Giver. IVP Academic, 2009