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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

An extra power: not of this world

Now in that last post, I was pretty hard on those that aren’t redeeming the time, and I gave a really big challenge that was somewhat, impossible. I mean, to constantly redeem the time, to be a good steward, and not to waste any moment, word, or thought is indeed a rather large challenge. However, my challenge didn’t stop there, it went another step further, calling young Christians to be bold, and witness Christ’s love for us. I’m not talking only about street evangelism, although that is a big part of it. But something along the lines of street evangelism. After leaving you with that huge challenge, and telling you that you were here “for such a time as this”, what do you do now?
I wanted to touch on an issue that is somewhat controversial in the Christian church. The Holy Spirit. But how controversial can that be, right? Very much so. Does He exist? Does He still work today? If not, why not? There are many questions and I want to look at what the Bible says about it.

First, is He real? Of course. As early as Genesis 1:2 we are told that,
“The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters…”
In 1 Samuel 10:10, talking about Saul, we are left with the picture of,
“The Spirit of God came upon Him in power, and he joined in their [the procession of prophets] prophesying.”
Sound like the Holy Spirit? Luke 24:49 says,
“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
And in John 20:22-23 Jesus says,
“Receive the Holy spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
How do you receive something that doesn’t exist? You can’t. So we can see from the scriptures that the Holy Spirit is real.

Next, does He still work today? This is where the controversy comes in. Most Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is real, indeed it’s hard to be a Christian and not believe that. And most believe that we have the Holy Spirit. But are His gifts still available? Were they only for the disciples, because they walked with Jesus? That’s inconsistent with scripture however, and I want to look at those scriptures. I’m going to organize this in a fashion that is more Q & A, as though an anonymous person were asking questions. This will be slightly different however, because some of the points from Mr. Anonymous, will be just that. Points, not questions.

1.) The gifts of the Holy Spirit were only for the disciples.
There are two things that I want to point out with this.

First of all is the fact that this has no Biblical backing. Nowhere in scripture are we told that the Holy Spirit left the earth. Nowhere does it say that the Holy Spirit is only for the disciples. Or that His gifts are now null and void because the finite disciples died.
Second, in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 we are told,
“Do not put out the Spirits fire. Do not treat prophecies with contempt.”
What Paul means by this is that we should not ignore or toss aside the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In this instance he specifically mentions prophecy. In 1 Corinthians 14:49 he talks about speaking in tongues. Sometimes, spiritual gifts can cause a division in the church. The reason is because they can be so powerful against the enemy; that he tries to do what he can to stifle them. As a result, many Christians try to smother them. I’ll address this in a minute. But this scripture is telling us, not to stifle the Holy Spirit’s work!

2.) We have everything we need in the scriptures. The Holy Spirit lives in us, and all the revelation we need, we can get from the Bible.
Absolutely. We can get all we need from the Bible. But since when does God only want to give us only what we need? God longs to give good gifts to His children, not just what is necessary for them to survive! Ephesians 1:13 says,
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are in God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”
He is a deposit, that guarantees our inheritance. He’s a sign. He’s given out of l

3.) Well the letters containing that information were written to the churches specifically.

Once again, two responses.
First, I don’t see that in scripture. Maybe it was a typo or something, but I
haven’t read a scripture where it says, “The information contained in this book can only be used and applied by the person or people group it is addressed to.” So if someone could point out where it says that it is only to the church in Corinth, or the church in Ephesus, that’d be appreciated.
Second, then what about the rest of each book? Even if I were to accept that statement as truth, what about the rest of the book? For instance, the book of 1 Corinthians was addressed to the church in Corinth, so does that mean that the definition of love given in 1 Corinthians 13 is only applicable to those in Corinth? Or only to those that were in Corinth? Let me ask another question, how much of the Bible was written to us? None of it was addressed to us specifically. I mean, there is no book of 1 Marshall, or 1 Americans. It was written along time ago, but that doesn’t nullify what it says. God’s word never returns void, and it’s not bounds by time either. So it retains it’s validity through time because it’s not bound by time.

I think one of the main reasons that people in churches nowadays is because a lot of times, it gets messy. It threatens our ideal of what we think church should look like. We want to be in and out of church by 12:00 so we can go out to eat, and then head home in time to watch our favorite football team play. We don’t want people to get offended, and we don’t want anything out of the ordinary. We just want a quiet little church service that follows a schedule, so that everybody is happy. God doesn't always work that way. God takes the ugly stuff out. And on top of that, a lot of times His schedule looks a lot different than ours.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like football just as much as the next guy, perhaps even more, (GO COLTS!) but I think we need the Holy Spirit. That’s the only way we are going to be able to change the world. It’s not enough to Do Hard Things™, Do New Things, and Redeem the Time. All that is great, but without the power of the Holy Spirit, it won’t have the effect that it could. Yes, the disciples changed the world by doing new and hard things, by redeeming the time, but they also had the power of the Holy Spirit. We’re not any different. If we want to change the world, we can only do that through the power of the Holy Spirit.