“I doubt whether any Evangelical ever denied the deity of the Holy Spirit. However, we certainly neglect Him and His lordship within the church. This failure to honor the Holy Spirit has resulted in much desolation within the church.”— A. W. Tozer
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.
There is a very real fear of the Holy Spirit in the Lord’s church.
I’ve seen it my entire life.
Being like the wind we know not from where He comes or where He is going and this uncertainty, this inability to lay our eyes on Him and pin Him down scares us.
Then the Enemy comes along and counterfeits Him and His gifts so we fear those as well.
But no one ever counterfeits a thing with no value. On the contrary, the counterfeit is great proof of the genuine and not only that it exists but that it has great value.
It is expressly THAT reason that the enemy counterfeits the genuine. Because it is valuable and powerful.
The goal is to convince the church to altogether abandon the gifts of the Spirit even the Spirit himself.
To throw the baby out with the bathwater if you will.
Now a good disciple of Jesus will never actually admit that they do this. But they do, and here’s how you know they do.
They don’t say His name.
And if He’s ever spoken of is it in terms that acknowledge Him for who He actually is?
What do I mean by that?
I mean this.
Historical orthodox doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit is as follows:
1. He is God. The third person of the Triune Godhead. (2 Corinthians 3:17, Acts 5:3-4)
2. He is a person. That is to say, He has everything that constitutes personhood; a mind (Romans 8:27), a will (1 Corinthians 12:11), emotions (Ephesians 4:30) even animation (1 Timothy 4:1), the Holy Spirit clearly exhibits all of these traits in Holy Scripture.
3. He dwells IN US. Meaning, the God of all creation is not simply in the heavens but he is actually IN THE ROOM WITH US, moreover, He is IN OUR HEARTS. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Knowing these three fundamental things about the character and operation of the Holy Spirit, how then do we:
1. Speak of him
2. Treat him
In my experience the church largely pays the Holy Spirit lip service.
They know they have to acknowledge him because the text of Scripture demands they do. But in practice they treat him like the crazy uncle who lives up in the attic that no one really likes to talk about in any real way and as soon as he is brought up or acknowledged great effort is made to change the subject to something “less weird and uncomfortable”.
To add to this, if the Holy Spirit is discussed it is always in a way that treats Him as if he is the subject of a book, a topic for discussion and not a PERSON who is IN THE ROOM with you.
We simply don’t treat him like he’s an actual person. A person with a mind, a will, emotions and animation. A person, who also, by the way, created the world and all there is in it. The same person in whom we live and move and have our being.
Now if you’re reading this, you’re probably responding in one of two ways.
1. “Yes and amen brother! Preach it.”
2. “This makes me mad. Is he talking about me?? I love the Holy Spirit, I’m just not one of those crazy charismatics…”
If you’re in the later group, let me challenge you with something. The Holy Spirit doesn’t belong to the charismatics brother. He’s God. And we, his people, belong to Him. And he has never been anything to us but GOOD.
So do we treat Him like he’s God? More importantly, do we treat him like he’s good? Do we love the fellowship of the Holy Spirit? Or do we treat him with suspicion or worse, contempt?
Do we say His name openly and unashamedly? Or does it make us uncomfortable to speak of Him, even in church? When we speak of Him do we speak in a way that treats Him like he’s an actual person in the room with us? Or is He reduced to the role of a character in a story book we read when we come together?
Next question. Depending on how you answer the above…
How do you think your answers make the Holy Spirit feel?
Is he highly esteemed and honored as God in your heart and before men? This God who made you, loves you and works your salvation in you. (Romans 8:11) Do you love Him?
Do you love the Holy Spirit?
Or is he an embarrassing, weird byproduct of antiquated doctrine we sheepishly acknowledged before our brothers in the faith?
The Scripture says that the Holy Spirit speaks and that he speaks “as long as it is called “today””.
My final question for you is this: do you fear His voice?
“12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” – John 16:12-15
“7Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” – Hebrews 3:7-19
After writing this the author of Hebrews gives us this stern warning:
“25See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29for our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:25-29
“51“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.” – Acts 2:51