Our belief on the need for the Holy Spirit impacts other things we believe. In my experience, those who downplay (which means–never talk about) the Holy Spirit, also downplay the following biblical doctrines:
1) Prayer–the Holy Spirit is linked with prayer continually. If prayer is viewed as optional, doesn’t really do anything, or is merely saying the same words, then what need is there for the Holy Spirit?
2) Gifts–spiritual gifts are not natural talents but rather spiritually created desires and abilities, not seen until after spiritual rebirth. If there is no talk of spiritual gifts–all of them, not just tongues and healing–you’re probably in a church that minimizes the Spirit.
3) Fruit–If life is sort of just a thing that is in the way before heaven and there’s no real point for Christian living, if salvation is just the same life as before just with more church, then fruit is not big on your list and the Spirit is not big either.
4) Resurrection Life–living the new life in Christ means a cessation of your old life, you are dead and crucified. Therefore all you have left is the Spirit and His spiritual life. No emphasis on resurrection life? Then more than likely little talk of the need for the Spirit.
5) Scriptural Knowledge–sure, you may know your proof texts and you may have down all the verses your guys gave you, but you know little about the rest of the Bible and little concern to figure it out, then the Spirit does not rank highly. What’s the point of having The Teacher if we know it all already?
Here’s how the Bible says you can know you have the Holy Spirit:
–The Bible increasingly makes sense to you
–You have an insatiable desire for more of God and His Word
–There is an inner witness with your spirit and God’s Spirit that you are a child of God
–You have a relationship with God as Him being your Abba, Father
–You are led in ways of righteousness and God, which means
–You are increasingly seeing victory over sin even to the point of saying you’ve killed it off.
–You have spiritual gifts and you use them
–Your life is producing fruit of the Spirit
Here’s how most people say you can know you have the Holy Spirit
–You get tingly sensations during certain worship songs
–Your body has convulsions, maybe even hysterical laughter for no reason
–Because you think you have Him
–Because you did a momentary manifestation of Holy Spirit Power
–You had a knee problem healed once
–Your car/home/appliance/TV sold right away on Craig’s List
–Doors miraculously open when you want to do that thing you like doing
–You hang out with people who also claim to have the Holy Spirit and you all act and look the same
Remember who the Judge is in the end–not people but God Himself. Be sure you know you’ve been born again.
John 3 is a fascinating and deep chapter. It contains many familiar verses, that are so familiar I think we assume we know what it’s all about.
In fact, it’s not hard to tell what John 3 is about–you must be born again. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, only spiritual creations can. Furthermore, only spiritual creations can discern spiritual teaching and do spiritual things.
The trap of legalism says “you can do everything God says through human will and strength.” Legalism, when not bucking you up with self-righteousness, is tearing you down with guilt. And self-righteousness is never free from guilt, nor vice-versa. Amazing how we operate, no?
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a huge event. It is the Gospel and it is what saves. But often left ignored is the truth, expounded on by Paul, that believers were crucified there and we were raised up there.
While Christianity downplays the commands of the NT, it also downplays the Holy Spirit, because if there’s nothing for us to do, what’s the point of having Spiritual power? “I can do everything through me because there aint nothin to do!” Seems to be the default position of “believers.”
You must be born again. You must see the utter dependency we have on the Holy Spirit for Christian living. Without Him we are just breathing piles of dirt; with Him we are partakers of the divine nature.
Many approach commands of God as things God would like us to do, but He understands we can’t actually do it. Thus, we make commands optional.
But when we consider the commands–forgive as Christ has forgiven you, be perfect as your Father is perfect, be holy as God is holy–we run into trouble. If we can’t do these things is God unreasonable or just goofy?
Israel ran into this problem with Pharaoh. As Israelites abounded, Pharaoh tried to keep them down with work–make bricks; make more bricks; gather straw for the bricks and still make the same amount.
It got unreasonable, unbearable. Is this what God is? Is he a maniacal dictator commanding us to do the impossible?
Or, perhaps He is commanding us to do the impossible and yet smiling, letting us know He really doesn’t expect us to do these things. An old grampa telling the grandkids to clean the house for gramma full-well knowing it won’t really be clean but it’s the thought that counts.
Perhaps our real trouble is in not seeing the power of new life in Christ. We’re so inundated with teachings about the weakness of the flesh, we never get to the strength of the Spirit.
We ascribe more power to our first birth than to our re-birth. We see the power of me and doubt the power of Christ. Instead, we see Christ as a great Messiah who saves people from their sin, just not really.
You must be born again. Old things have passed away, behold all things are new. We are new creations in Christ Jesus. We’ve been given not a spirit of fear but of power.
Perhaps these words mean something.
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John Piper did a blog post about why he doesn’t speak badly of Fundamentalists. His first reason why is “They are humble and respectful and courteous and even funny.”
Funny is a good reason to respect someone. There’s something about funny that smacks of truth. I’ve heard many people after hearing a joke say, “It’s funny because it’s so true!”
Truth has humor in it. Where there is no humor there is probably little truth. Those who are hyper-serious, to the point of depressive, about their faith make me nervous. Something isn’t right. What is your seriousness making up for?
Pharisees are not funny. They are studiously serious. Religion is too important for them to be funny.
There is a flip side, funny can be taken too far. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “If I had to choose one or the other, I would prefer the man who may even be a little morbid, but who does know the plague of his own heart, to the glib, superficial, light-hearted kind of Christian who has never yet known and realized the foulness and the vileness of his own nature and the depth of sin within him.”
In the end, humor is no gauge of spirituality. But I’m still highly bothered by the man who cannot laugh. I’ve met few funny people who are not in tune with reality. Much humor has a root in humility; much seriousness has a root in pride.
Just some thoughts, no real point.
It is proper Christian thinking to talk about our unworthiness and general horribleness. Our heads puff as we utter, “I am not worthy of heaven.”
Certainly there is truth in these utterances and it may indeed be possible I’m being cynical a tad. But I do think we often go overboard in our voluntary humility to the extent we miss biblical teaching.
You can indeed be worthy of heaven. And, for our NIV readers, “worthy” means “to deem entirely deserving.” Yup, it is possible to claim that you deserve heaven.
Now, don’t go saying that because I said so, listen to Jesus talk about a group of people who “shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead.” “Accounted worthy” means deserving.
Or perhaps you’re a Paul guy. Well here’s Paul talking about the suffering Thessalonian believers that they “may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.” “Counted worthy” is the same Greek word and it means to deserve.
It is possible to deserve heaven, now I suggest you figure out how to go about deserving it!