These are the two questions (among others) that we will ask and probe for the next 7 weeks.
By the time we are done with the Sunday messages, the weekly devotional resources, and the occasional blogging, you will have studied, prayed through, and experienced the majority of the biblical teaching on the Holy Spirit.
We want you to Expect the Spirit to be at work in and through you.
We want you to Experience the Spirit at work. It is important to carefully study what the Bible says about the Spirit, but that is in the service of a fuller experience of the Spirit’s activity in us.
And we want you to Enjoy life in the Spirit of God. Jesus said he came that we might have abundance of life – real and eternal, more and better life than we ever imagined. It is the Spirit of God that delivers into out lives all that God the Son has accomplished for us through his life, ministry, death, and resurrection. That’s what the Spirit does and that’s why the Spirit matters. (By the way, the Spirit is able to do this even when we are confused about the work of the Spirit! In that sense, the Spirit’s work is a work of grace.)
But this is difficult, for we all have a starting point about the Spirit of God. And Living Word is a BIG TENT when it comes to the Christian world. Big Tent? What does that mean? I’ll tell you a lot more about that in a later blog, but for now it just means that we MAJOR ON THE MAJORS and we give room for people to responsibly work through their interpretations on many matters. That means we have a spectrum of people holding various theological and spiritual positions on many different beliefs at Living Word. And that diversity is a core strength of Living Word.
As Augustine said, “Unity on the essentials (see our Statement of Faith on what we identify as essentials), diversity on the non-essentials, and charity (or love) in all things.” To major on the major matters is to have unity on the essentials.
The Spirit of God, as the third member of the Trinity, as God, is of course a MAJOR matter. However, there are legitimate, different interpretations on how you experience the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. We give people freedom and space to work through the Bible’s teaching.
This series will help you work through that teaching. And I’ll do my very best to give you solid interpretation, while acknowledging other thoughts, sharing my own experiences and lessons learned through those experiences (some which were very good and others which were quite bad), and setting out the parameters that have guided us through the 40 years of life at Living Word.
As I start this series, I know that:
ONE: For some of us, the Holy Spirit is the somewhat neglected and rather forgotten member of the Trinity. There are some followers of Christ who don’t know enough about the Spirit. Hang in there for these 7 weeks. Engage, study, think, and pray, and your understanding of the Bible’s teaching on the Spirit will soar.
TWO: For some of us, the Holy Spirit is front and center, and is the most important member of the Trinity. Now, with that said, those who are at that place are relatively few at Living Word. But in some churches, that’s the mindset.
THREE: For some at Living Word, they have been at places where they had spiritual experiences that have been confusing, perhaps troubling, and now they are cautious and even on guard against excesses, abuses, distortions, and mistakes. After conflict about grace and works, the Apostle Paul’s second biggest headache was with distortions about the work of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Just as it was in the New Testament, there are plenty of the same thing about the Spirit in some churches. I want to borrow a very old cliche and adapt it: Don’t throw the Spirit out with the dirty bathwater of inappropriate spiritual experiences.
But, all this is even more reason why we need to understand who the Spirit is and why the Spirit matters in our lives.
As I said on Sunday, the RUACH of God is the Spirit, breath, wind, life, presence, and power of God around us and in us.
May the presence of God’s Spirit fill you every day this week.
May you have sails ready to catch the wind of the Spirit.
May the Spirit of God breathe new life into each Valley of Bones.
May the power of God move the mountains that overwhelm you.
Expect, experience, and enjoy God’s gracious, generous Holy Spirit.