Article # nine: The Holy Spirit
F A R
Mannie’s church has a lot to say about the Holy Spirit. At least once a year the pastor or a visiting reverend will give a series of talks. Also, Mannie has read books and listened to televangelists.
She knows the Holy Spirit is a person, He is everywhere at once, dwells within the believer, there’s nothing He can’t do, we live in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, He wrote the Bible through various writers, He is Holy, He is all-powerful. But for all the head knowledge, Mannie does not know the Holy Spirit.
Mannie has memorized the nine gifts of the Spirit, and sincerely longs to have them operational in her life. The reverends scold her, from various pulpits, about her lack of love, so she tries hard to love. She should be joyful and peaceful, so she gives them a try. Next thing you know they’re prodding her to have patience, so she determines to be patient, and that ain’t easy especially with certain people (like Merf). As soon as she thinks she’s making headway, there is kindness and faithfulness and gentleness to deal with. Sometimes she inwardly mutters back to the reverends, “Give me a break, will you?!”
Mannie really wants the Holy Spirit, the power and all that, to lay hands on the sick and have them jump joyously out of their sick bed. She even envisions herself raising the dead once in a while. How neat to have signs and wonders following her wherever she goes.
So what’s the problem?
L a r r y J o n e s : Because the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” one cannot have “fellowship of the Spirit” without having fellowship with Christ. How much of the Spirit do you have? This is relative to how much of Jesus you have. (The Way It Is)
Many in Mannie’s church choose to comfortably distance themselves from Jesus but nonetheless want the Holy Spirit. Evangelicalism is crowded with such.
L a r r y J o n e s : This reveals that they want the power for illegitimate reasons, not to glorify Christ, but to elevate self or to fortify the way it is. (Ditto)
The fruit of the Spirit is just that, the fruit (or the characteristics or the nature) of the Spirit. To the degree Mannie has the Spirit she has the fruit of the Spirit. To try to get the fruit by self effort is a waste. Isn’t going to happen.
Try to get the picture. As evangelicalism lacks Christ, so evangelicalism lacks the Holy Spirit. To the degree evangelicalism lacks Christ, evangelicalism lacks the Holy Spirit. Much study about the Holy Spirit won’t change that.
J E S U S : You will know them by their fruits. (Mat. 7:16)
Good fruit, good tree. Bad fruit, bad tree. Present-day evangelicalism can be assessed by its fruit. Little fruit indicates little of the precious Holy Spirit. Mannie is a fruit of, a product of, evangelicalism, and Mannie is typical.
In your opinion, what does a Christ-centered, Spirit-filled “church” look like? And….
What does a man-centered, man-controlled church with little of the Spirit look like? And….
Which of the two best describes the typical evangelical church?
I will say it again: As and because evangelicalism lacks Christ, evangelicalism lacks the Holy Spirit. Little of Christ is the problem, the tragedy.
J E S U S : You will know them by their fruits.
Should Mannie continue to be guided by evangelicalism she will always be a stunted evangelical. She will never (consistently) “be filled with the Spirit.”
N E A R
Merf doesn’t seek the Holy Spirit, he seeks Christ.
L a r r y J o n e s : How does a Christian get “filled with the Spirit”? By sincerely and fervently turning to Jesus, by embracing Him fully in one’s life. It is a package deal; with Jesus comes “the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (The Way It Is)
Merf received an interesting revelation during a morning alone time: The Holy Spirit loves Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is every bit as nice and as holy as Jesus, every bit as worthy of our praise. But He doesn’t seek our praise – He seeks the praises of Jesus and His (and our) Father. Jesus is central in heaven and the Holy Spirit works to make Him central in the church on earth.
Merf has a relationship with the Holy Spirit. The two walk together, not a perfect union by any means, but time brings them closer. Merf acknowledges his need for the Holy Spirit to bring him relationally closer to Christ and submits to His governorship. And then he strays (again), becomes independent, leaning on his own prowess, discovers (again) that doesn’t work too good and returns to His lordship.
Poor Merf. Shifting from one lord (Merf) to another (the Holy Spirit) isn’t easy. It calls for dying to self. (And we all know how hard that is.) It calls for abandonment, surrender and trust. (Ouch!, ouch! and ouch!)
A F r i e n d : The road ahead is abundantly worth the journey.
Going the way of the Holy Spirit hurts, but the hurt leads to a better life. Without the Holy Spirit Merf has no chance of completing his noble commission. He will be part of the problem. He will suffer loss at the judgment seat. Heaven will be less populated.
With the Holy Spirit comes adventure. He brings us to Jesus and Jesus is never boring. Keeping company with Jesus causes lots of problems but never a boredom problem. He is the only One we could never tire of being with. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years” we will not have lost one ounce of enthusiasm.
C h a l l e n g e : Bored? Be a radical for Christ. How? Pray (sincerely and often) to become a radical for Christ. Submit to the lordship of the Holy Spirit.
P r a y e r : Lord Jesus, Your anointing upon this article, I pray. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)