Holy Spirit: What is He Good For?

22 Mar

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So dad, how do you like the iPad we got you?

Ever felt like this guy regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit or just life in the Spirit in general? I think I spend 90% of my life like him. Sometimes it seems like I’ve got things all figured out but I’m totally oblivious as to the true meaning of the gift that has been given to me in the Holy Spirit. Francis Chan is absolutely correct in calling Him the forgotten God. While I don’t think anybody means to forget about Him, I’m also convinced that many of us are tapping into the Spirit as much as this guy is tapping into the potential of his iPad.

Now, I know that sounds kind of harsh, but think about it. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12) He was speaking in regards to the Holy Spirit that would be given for everyone who believes. As I look at my own life, I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s pretty evident I depend on my own ability and knowledge way to much, and in so doing, I think I miss the Spirits moving in and through me far to often. According to Barna statistics 30% of professed believers think the Holy Spirit is just a symbolic thing. Whether we like it or not, that statistic say’s a lot about the state of the church. If I’m honest, it say’s a lot about me.

In large part, it seems there are two camps of people in the U.S.regarding the Holy Spirit. There are those that think the Holy Spirit was given so that He could rain down gold dust on us in our church services, (as if a materialistic greedy group of people need more gold), or fill us with power to do kind of pointless things, like bark like dogs (Like that will fulfill the great commission). Or, there are those that want nothing to do with the Holy Spirit, mostly because they have witnessed people who abuse the gifts of the Spirit (or at least what they would proclaim as a gift of the Spirit). There is a third camp though, and as imperfect as they are, they wrestle to have a balanced biblical view of the Holy Spirit while understand that He, being God, sometimes asks us to become fools for his sake (1 Corinthians 4:10).

Our culture is so scared of the Holy Ghost (Spirit), that in many ways, we’ve become so p.c., that we would rather talk about Casper the Friendly Ghost. I can’t in good conscience write about the Holy Spirit and tell you that you will always have a safe experience with him. Let’s be real here, we are talking about the same God that required Isaiah to walk barefoot and naked (awkward anyone) for three years to proclaim the coming captivity in Egypt(Isaiah 20:2-3). Then there’s Ezekiel whom lay before a stone that symbolized rebellious Jerusalem, and then get this, God had him eat bread baked on human waste. (For all you scholars out there, waste is now translated poop.) Then, we have a look at the cross, where God asked his own Son to go and die on it for the sake of you and me. Talk about foolishness.

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Clearly, we don’t serve a safe God. I have yet to meet someone, whom after reading about the life of Jesus has said to me; wow, that Jesus guy is really safe. Somehow, when it comes to the Holy Spirit, we think He will never push us out of our comfort zone and make us look foolish. Now, my point isn’t that the Holy Spirit came to make us look foolish (I’m good at doing that on my own.), but that the God we serve isn’t safe. We can’t put him in a box, and say, stay. He won’t do it.

So, what is the Holy Spirit good for? Why did Jesus promise to send him to us? While the Holy Spirit has many functions, one of the major reasons we need the Holy Spirit is because the Holy Spirit gives us POWER. Power for what you might be asking? While some of the traditional reasons might be, power for service, power for prayer, and power for special assignments (all of which are correct and needed), I want to suggest that we as Americans need the power of the Holy Spirit for some other specific reasons as well.

1. Power to Overcome Materialism

We can’t escape the materialism that pervades our culture. It has seeped into every aspect of our lives. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, much of our cultural and moral convictions are shaped by what the newest movie stars are wearing, saying or doing. We don’t have to look very hard to see that American’s love stuff. We see it in the cars we drive, in the clothes we wear, in the coffee we drink (I’m writing this in a coffee shop by the way), and the stuff we do. According to Randy Alcorn’s “Money, Possessions, and Eternity,” shopping is our most popular week day activity with there being 16&1/2 square feet of mall space for every person. That’s crazy.

So how does this relate to the Holy Spirit? Materialism has so gripped our culture, (the church included I’m afraid to say), that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to free us from its death grip. Look at what happened when the early church was filled with the Holy Spirit.

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.

When there is an outpouring of the Spirit in our lives it will affect how we view and spend the money God gives us. Does this mean that in order to be a Christian that we need to join a commune and sell everything we have? We need to understand that there were some powerful circumstances that led the early church to give and live as they did. Thousands upon thousands of people were in Jerusalem during the time of Pentecost. Once the spirit was poured out, many people were converted to Christ, and for many of them, this meant a loss of jobs, families, and home. Because of this, there were thousands of people displaced and in desperate need. The church answered this need in a powerful way, but we need to remember it was in response to very unique circumstances. While I don’t think this is necessarily a pattern for every believer to follow, but more a response to unique needs, we are called to have the same heart of giving those believers had, because what we do with our money loudly affirms what we are living for. We (myself included) need the power of the Holy Spirit to break the spirit of materialism that renders us ineffective.

It’s no accident that 15% of the recorded words of Jesus were about the subject of money. Obviously, He is concerned with the subject, and wants us to be concerned with it as well. Materialism has the power to destroy our lives, but we don’t need to despair. As we yield to the Holy Spirit, and invite him to fill us fresh with his power, the result will be exactly as in Acts chapter 4, because “greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.” (John 4:4)

Stay tuned for The Power to be Content.

While it’s easy to point out things wrong in the church, what are some of the ways you’ve seen the Spirit moving this week?

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3 Responses to “Holy Spirit: What is He Good For?”

  1. ytauma March 22, 2012 at 5:30 #

    The Holt Spirit tends to be the forgotten 3rd party of the trinity. Many don’t understand him and some churches doesn’t teach much about him. Although present there little mention of him in the bible unlike Father & Jesus.
    The books I know he’s mention are: genesis, proverbs, psalm, john, acts, 1 corinthians, & ephesians. There are plenty of books and some pastoral sermons on the spirit.
    Shall He abide & trouble bring you peace!

  2. krystle March 23, 2012 at 5:30 #

    Great post, Tom!! I’ve really been enjoying your blog!! The Holy Spirit has really been on my heart to dig deeper on for the past few months. I’ve been going to a new (to me) church and wrestling with the ways this church seems to behave in the name of the Holy Spirit. I, myself, have too much fear of God to attribute certain behaviors to Him. What it comes down to for me is, “is this edifying to the body of Christ?” Does dancing around like a chicken bring anyone closer to Him? Does bringing so much emotion into things take us deeper with Jesus? I can’t say it does…

  3. Adam March 27, 2012 at 5:30 #

    I’d love to sit down and chat more about this with you. Based on your descriptions of the two Holy Spirit camps I have an inclination as to a church you may be describing.
    Knowing where we came from as a Foursquare church I have been convicted lately because of the lack of the Holy Spirit. Would love to chat with you more!

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