The Holy Spirit is a touchy topic for many Christians today. When we begin to talk about the Holy Spirit and His gifts, believers seem to fall into one of two opposing camps. The first camp is the ultra-charismatic camp. Here, there is a large emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit at the expense of Biblical Doctrine. Truth about the Spirit can be based upon experiences rather than what God teaches in His authoritative Word.
The second is the ultra-conservative camp. Here, there is a love for Biblical Doctrine and theology, but often times there is also a fear of the supernatural. So what is the answer? Is it charismatic, spirit-filled passion or is it deep, rich theology?
The answer is “yes.”
It’s both. In fact, the Bible teaches us that the two are inseparable. When a believer is feasting on the word of God and studying God’s nature (and every believer should be doing this) he is drawn closer to God and given a passion to see great, amazing, miraculous things done for His kingdom.
I find it very saddening that churches who emphasize Biblical doctrine are known for boring worship. Our passion for something is rooted in our knowledge of who or what that particular thing is.
To adapt an illustration used by Matt Chandler; If I explain to a stranger how beautiful my wife is by telling him about her thick flowing black hair and lovely dark brown eyes, he may be impressed. He may think, “This guy really loves his wife.” The problem is that my wife’s hair is brown and her eyes are blue. It doesn’t matter how passionately I’ve expressed these characteristics of my wife because they’re inaccurate!
I think it is easy for us at NewBranch to nod our head in agreement at this. We emphasize Biblical Doctrine, Expository Preaching, and feasting upon deep truths of God. But the reason we do this is because knowledge of God leads to a passion for God, which leads to a life dedicated to the advancement of His gospel for His glory.
Is this happening in our lives? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately. I read a lot of theology. I study God’s word in deep ways. Why haven’t I shared the gospel with my neighbors?
In the Book of Acts, the advancement of the Gospel is traced back to the amazing and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells His disciples, “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.” These disciples were already believers. The Spirit was breathed out upon them in John 20:22. But in Acts 2 the Spirit falls upon the believers in a different way and ignites the mission of God.
One of the major reasons the American Church doesn’t look like the New Testament church is because of it’s failure to acknowledge the reviving power of the Holy Spirit. Believers, beg for the Holy Spirit to fall on you. Beg for the Holy Spirit to baptize our church. Beg for revival- In the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God and advancement of His Kingdom.
Some Great Resources on the Holy Spirit’s role in revival and mission:
Empowered For Mission by Ken Rucker (Sermon)
Joy Unspeakable: Power and Renewal in the Holy Spirit (Book)
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan (Book)