Dear Regeneration Family,
This weekend, we concluded our four-week series on the Holy Spirit with a panel discussion that, I pray, was helpful in clarifying questions and experience we have when it comes to the Holy Spirit. That said, I know that when we answer some questions, it opens us up to others.
Someone said to me yesterday, “The downside of having the panel at the end of the series is that I don’t have closure.” That makes sense to me; we had a great introduction to all of this that went into a new direction at the end of the series.
My hope here is to give us a few reminders and a sense on where we’re going, together, as we seek to interrupt people’s lives with the love and grace of Jesus.
Remember that when we speak of the Holy Spirit, we’re speaking of God; we believe in one God Who eternally exists as three persons. The missionary Father sent the missionary Son who gives the missionary Spirit to us, so that God’s presence would be with us wherever we go. Jesus said,
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to us as a way to share His own presence with us, and made it clear that the Spirit won’t go where truth isn’t. Jesus even said that the Spirit would seek only to glorify—that is, shine the spotlight on—Jesus. When we seek to know the Spirit, we really seek to know the One whose greatest desire is to help us know Jesus more intimately.
There were a lot of words thrown out yesterday—prophecy, spiritual gifts, slain in the Spirit, tongues, interpretation, words of knowledge, spiritual warfare, prayer language. These are words we’re not always comfortable with, but we have to remember that our discomfort puts us in the global minority. In most places around the world, the miraculous and supernatural are just part of how the world is, part of how business gets done.
What we’re trying to do as a community is shift our worldview—not to align with the rest of the global people of Jesus (though that’s not the worst goal), but to align ourselves with the worldview of Scripture, which teaches us that the miraculous really is part of our daily lives. We’re trying to have an openness, an expanded radar of sorts, for the Spirit of God to work the miraculous among us.
Keep in mind, friends, that the Spirit is already working the miraculous among us. The Spirit raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and raised us with Him into salvation; it is the Spirit who gives us rebirth (theological term: regeneration!) from sin; it is the Spirit who helps us know and understand Scripture; it is the Spirit who dwells within you, helping you to live a life that is obedient to Jesus.
Frankly, you are already experiencing the miraculous. The life-change I know many of your are experiencing is living proof of the power of God, through the Spirit. More specifically: it is the gift of the Father, accomplished by the Son, applied to our lives by the Spirit. The Spirit is not extraneous to the work of God, but the agency by which God does all things in your life!
So, back to the words: tongues, prayer language, prophecy, and more. What is our next step, as a community? On the one hand, nothing significant—we’re going to do what we’ve been doing, but we want to do it with an eye on what the Spirit may also have for us. That can be as simple as something we experienced in worship together a few weeks ago: while singing a particular song, I felt a strong leading from God to read a passage of Scripture, so I did, and then we kept on going as usual.
We simply want to have an openness to God’s Spirit, and allow Him to lead us as He always has. Put simply, here’s what’s not changing: we’re still focused on following Jesus, together, as we make disciples and invite more and more people to know Him and His Gospel. We’re still focused on being a loving community, a learning community, and a community that serves one another and our city.
What is changing is that we’re opening ourselves up to the possibility that there might be more layers to how we do this. What if, as we care for one another, we feel led to pray specifically for miraculous healing for someone among us? What if, as we serve the city, someone among us feels compelled to share with them a word from the Lord? What if we paid closer attention to the more spiritual aspects of our work, remembering the words of Paul who told us that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places”?
Simply put, we’re doing what we’ve always done: taking God at His Word, and believing that what He says is true. We’re standing in the tradition of the church which has always confessed, taught, and lived that there is more happening spiritually than many of us are aware of. We’re living into the very reality in which Jesus lived!
In the next few weeks, we’ll see if we can’t put together a time for Ken and Marion to lead more training on what they shared, so we can expand our biblical categories for what we heard yesterday. Always remember that you could meet with me, or any of our panelists, to wrestle through your questions. For the readers among us, a few books:
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
Defeating Dark Angels: Breaking Demonic Oppression in the Believer’s Life by Charles H. Kraft
As always, know how dearly I love you and long for each one of you to know more of Jesus.
Together for the Gospel,