What an interesting first few months of 2015 it has been. Going back to the late summer of last year, I knew God was stirring in me to share what He had been layering in my heart concerning the need for His presence and power in the modern church. Deeply concerned that we biblical conservatives have unwittingly embraced a modified Trinity of “Father, Son & Holy Scriptures”, I was compelled to step up and speak out on our need to recognize and pursue the Person and workings of God the Spirit. For many of those who gave attention to what I shared in these messages in the Miraculous series there was a spiritual kindling – a heart blaze – that began to flame as they were reacquainted with the dynamics of how the Holy Spirit moved in the early church. God was now moving in them to step into a deepening relationship with the Holy Spirit that they had been taught most of their Christian lives was not available to them. As a pastor, I could no longer keep to myself the foundational beliefs that have made such a difference in my own life over the past twelve years. As I maintained my twenty-year commitment to allow the Scriptures to frame up my personal beliefs, I have since found that much of what I had initially been trained in concerning the Holy Spirit had very little biblical support. Personally, this search for truth about the Holy Spirit began for me back in 1999 but it took me nearly four years to become theologically convinced that what I had been previously taught, what I had privately affirmed and what I had publicly shared was little more than man’s conclusions on the matter. I could find nothing clear in God’s Word that pointed conclusively to the belief that the Holy Spirit stopped doing what He began to do in the first century church. It was sometime in early 2003 when I knew that my mind was forever changed on the matter. Not surprisingly, I kept my views to myself, believing this matter to be a secondary doctrinal issue and nothing that a 32 year old pastor of a Baptist church needed to tackle. I had plenty of other things to give my time and attention to so my personal study of Scripture concerning the Holy Spirit was an edifying, enlightening process that I reserved back then for just me and my King. In the year 2013 I knew God was leading me to begin to help those whom He had entrusted to my leadership to begin to consider what the Scriptures actually say on this topic that, unfortunately, divides solid Christians who would agree on nearly every other aspect of the faith. I was both excited but somewhat intimidated at what God was leading me to do. Sensing that the time had come, I opened my Bible, opened my mouth and opened up the discussion.
As I mentioned before, some people who listened to my teaching came alive late last year and early this year when I began to gently preach on the issue. Others became incensed and vacated the premises with a quickness when I dared to expound with the scriptures a view that opposed what they deeply held to be true about the Holy Spirit. Truthfully, not a single one of those who left our church ever once offered a scriptural foundation to support their views. Only one brother engaged me in a civil discussion on the matter which allowed us to part as friends and brothers who had differing views on a doctrinal matter. Most left without even saying goodbye and, I admit it, that really stung. Also of note, none who left asked to meet with me to hear my own scriptural basis for my conclusions on the matter. They just left… and some left angry, hurt, confused and indignant at what they believe was a departure from truth on my part. My belief is that, if they had waited and listened, they not only would have seen no reason to leave but they would have eventually rejoiced that they had stayed.
Please know that, as a pastor, I want to help people align with God’s Word, yet I knew that this particular issue would be a stumbling block for some people who truly love God and are sincere in their commitment to Him. So what is a pastor to do? Was I to keep the peace at the expense of my biblical convictions? I had never done that before even when it came to issues of lesser importance. So then, how could I remain silent on something as important as pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit)? Seeking to strike a balance between that inner stirring of a prophet with the truth and the calm care of a pastor needing to be responsible with the flock entrusted to him, I began to broach the topic in the sermon series just made available in the store on this website. I am posting this note in the blog because I want anyone who listens to those messages to understand my motivation in sharing these sermons. Before sharing my beliefs I worked on articulating them for many years. There were times of prayer and fasting. I sought diligently to establish my testimony as a pastor and teacher who reveres the bible and preaches the whole counsel of God. I trained the flock I shepherd to always ask the question, “What do the Scriptures say?” as they develop their theology. I am a man who pours his life into the Church. I hear of your pains. I weep with you and rejoice with you. I marry Christians and also bury them. Too often I am in hospitals with afflicted Christians who have never been offered confidence that God miraculously heals. Sitting in rooms for countless hours counseling people with addictions has led me to clearly see that many people have little to zero expectation of deliverance from strongholds. Marriages implode because there is no anticipation that the Holy Spirit will radically change minds, hearts and relationships. Unforgiving, joyless, powerless, loveless, sin-dominated lives being eeked out in the absence of triumphant power, missional sacrifice, Kingdom commitments and zealous service have actually become acceptable to us as being normative for those who say that they are redeemed by Jesus Christ. Basically, my two-decade’s-long observations led me to conclude that many in the Body of Christ live with a cross-your-fingers and hope-for-the-best approach to life and faith. Does that even remotely sound like the testimony of the Holy Spirit-filled Christians we see on the pages of our bible?
I, for one, am no longer willing to allow that to continue on my watch.
So…remaining consistent to my approach to faith, life and ministry I have chosen to allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves as I also welcome the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts and minds of others concerning who He is and what He is doing among us today. Perhaps the very fact that we give a theological thumbs-up to His existence while giving a theological thumbs-down to His supernatural activity has created the stale reality that we witness in the Church today. Knowing that these messages will open me up to be misunderstood (as they already have), misrepresented (as has already occurred) and unfairly categorized as having abandoned orthodox faith (which makes me chuckle), I welcome you to listen to the messages for yourself and to form your own conclusions. If you really want to explore this issue you may wish to listen to the messages in the series prior to my preaching this one which is called Encounters ; this is also in the Transforming Truth store. By the way, lest someone think I am just trying to generate ministry income, all of these messages can be viewed in the Transforming Truth app which is available for free in Apple, Android and Windows app stores. All I ask from you is what I have asked from all those with whom I have conversed on this matter: what do the Scriptures actually say about the Holy Spirit and His activity among the people of God? If, as the bylaws of the church I pastor require of me and all of the covenant members, we Christians regard God’s Word as the “final and supreme authority for holy principles of faith and life” then let us resolutely refuse lesser authorities, standards, denominational norms and traditions when we seek to develop and hold to orthodox doctrine and practices.
You need Him. You need His activity in your life. Those whom you follow and those whom you may lead in the Kingdom need Him too. Evil is exponentially abounding in our generation. Islamic terrorists are decapitating Christians if they refuse to recant their faith. Our own nation is beginning to try and muzzle us and the Church is becoming nearly apologetic as we slip into irrelevance in our country. Where is the power of God in your life and the life of your church? Is there not a cause? Never has a generation of Christians had more wealth with less power and influence – why is this? We cannot advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ without the Holy Spirit, His presence, His power and His gifts. First century Christians believed, understood and lived that out and the entire history of mankind was forever transformed. Many in our generation believe God has changed His eternal mind on what the Church needs since the first century. All I can say is that it is wise to compare what was happening then for the glory of our King compared to what is happening in many places now. There is evidence which demands a verdict.
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