Recent blog posts
The subject of Holy Spirit Baptism has been very divisive. Typically people are polarized into two camps:
I was once visiting a church and the pastor announced, “We’re not going to have a sermon today because we want to just hand the whole meeting over to the Holy Spirit and see his power”. This immediately felt wrong to me, and I started trying to think through why.
For one thing, if the preaching is from the Scriptures, then it is “Holy Spirit” truth. So it is not a choice between “Word” and “Spirit” but “Spirit” and “Spirit”.
But then I read Act 14:3, “So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” The miracles came, not instead of the preaching, but because of the preaching! So if you want to see signs and wonders, then preach a message that God will want to bear witness to, with a supernatural “Amen!”
So it looks like we have two operations of the Spirit: the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of power. I wondered whether it would be possible to go through the Bible and divide the references to the Spirit into to those two categories. As I started on the project I found plenty of truth verses, such as:
And power verses, such as
But then a third category emerged. He is the Spirit of love
I began to get excited when I found several verses that combined two of the three and some that combined all three, such as “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7) It seems I was onto something. (The complete list of references can be found at loveintruth.com)
I see an unfortunate tendency for churches to zero in on one, or maybe two, of these three aspects of the Spirit. Charismatic churches want to see the Spirit move in power. Reformed churches love the way the Spirit leads us into truth. New churches are emerging whose main focus is strong relationship.
But what does the Spirit think of this? Does he want us to take one aspect of his ministry to the exclusion of the others? How would a girl react if a man said to her, “I like your beauty, but I’m really not interested in your mind!”
So what does it mean for churches that want to see more of God’s power? Instead of cancelling the sermon, I suggest we need to ask the Spirit to lead us into such an excellent understanding of truth that the Lord will bear witness to it in power, as in Act 14. And then we need to be radical in our love: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22)[read more...]
I’ve heard it said that if you removed the parts of the Bible that deal with the presence of God, you would end up with the genealogies, Proverbs & Philemon, and maybe not even that!
Everyone recognizes that this is one of the most important subjects that there is, yet very little is written about it apart from the description of some experiences. So here I am attempting to begin to develop the theology of the subject.
I believe that there are three ways that the Bible speaks about God’s special presence:
So the big question is: Why do we often not experience God’s presence the way we would like to?[read more...]
First, thank you for your sincere response! I am going to respond back to you point by point. I appreciate also the comments of RB.
I have just preached two sermons on "Delighting in God". I am interested in the "normal Christian experience" of joy in God. Peter says:
"Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory" [1 Peter 1:8]
But is that the experience of most Christians?
Part 1 notes and download: Looking for Pleasure in All the Right Places
Mary in 2002, with Richard in the background
Mary died on Tuesday. She was 73. She and Richard would have been married for 28 years at the end of May. Richard had a very difficult childhood and was taken away from his father to work on a farm. Both of them had hard lives and struggled in many ways but came to know the Lord with a simple faith.
Mary has been in a nursing home for several years and towards the end was suffering terribly. Richard had been praying that God would take her home.
Things came to a head on Tuesday evening and it was so distressing for Richard that the nurses suggested he left the room, so he went to get a cup of coffee. Half way across the street God spoke to Richard. He just said, “Don’t worry. I have answered your prayer! I have taken Mary home.”
Richard immediately turned around and went back to the building. A nurse met him and said, “They want you up on the third floor right now!”. Mary had indeed been “taken home”.
He keeps talking about the look on Mary’s face. Her eyes were fixed wide open in awe and amazement and she was smiling. Moments before she died she must have had a glimpse of the one she was going to be with. But what he talks about most was that a light was actually shining from her face and body as if it were lit up from the inside.
(I asked Richard if he minded me sharing these facts and he said, “Oh no! It’s a testimony!”)
I was wondering what a cessationist would make of these events.[read more...]
Stepping out in our churches
1. Be honest with God that you dont have the faith to heal those in wheelchairs
2. By exercising the Spirit of Faith