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Holy Spirit

Does your church teach and preach on the power of the Holy Spirit?

I have been to some churches where there is no teaching or preaching on the third person of the trinity. None. Zilch. Nada.

We need the power of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and we need him in our churches.

Michael F. Bird is an Australian Anglican priest, a theologian and New Testament scholar. In his book “Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and systematic Introduction” he writes:

Tragically, however, the Holy Spirit is largely neglected by many evangelicals. They regard the Holy Spirit as the poor cousin of the Trinity. There is the Father (long grey hair, big white beard, shiny white gown, kinda like an Anglican version of Santa Claus); then there is the Son (hippie long hair, well-trimmed beard, and good Caucasian complexion); finally, there is the Holy Spirit, who is kinda like a “buzz” that sets off good vibrations about God when our favorite hymn is sung at church. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit often ends up becoming an empty affirmation in a theological checklist.

The Holy Spirit is eclipsed partly because evangelicals lay such a high stress on Christology. But some evangelicals are also scared of the Holy Spirit because of a desire to avoid the excesses of Pentecostalism. The result is a virtual pneumaphobia [fear of the Spirit]. The other problem is that the Spirit is suspect because he is not a denominational or theological loyalist. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is a maverick. He crosses the floor on many issues, breaks ranks in division, and won’t be owned by any party. He is impossible to predict or predetermine and can’t be bottled up by doctrine or by denomination. He calls no theologian “master” and lives as a free agent, going and blowing where he wishes. Keeping up with the Spirit is like trying to follow the beat in some syncopated jazz music: there is a rhythm, but you have no idea where it is going. [Jesus: The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”] Too many churches are passionate for the glory of the Father, are resolute in their Christ-centered faith, but languish in a spiritual impoverishment by neglecting the Holy Spirit.

Michael F. Bird, Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 611.

Some evangelical churches have given the Holy Spirit his due by focusing on life in the Spirit and the holiness of the Holy Spirit. The charismatic and holiness movements, whatever their shortcomings, have reminded evangelicals that they are meant to be Trinitarian rather than binitarian.

The movement of the Spirit in the twentieth century has shown that worship can be and should be scandalously joyous. Doctrinal adherence goes hand in hand with religious affections. Our faith is not purely cerebral, but also experiential. For as we pursue devotion to the Father and adhere to doctrines about the Son, it is surely to our detriment that we ignore our experience of the Holy Spirit, who mediates the presence and power of God.

The prophet, John the Baptizer, weighed in on being immersed in the power of the Holy Spirit.

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire[1]

Luke 3:16

John was preaching to a crowd here. This was not an exclusive message to a few.

Consider this from the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost.

But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:   ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. [2]

Acts 2:16–18

Peter said to a massive crowd.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Master our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.[3]

Acts 2:37–41

The promise of the Holy Spirit is still for believers today. Our confessions of faith requires a trinitarian approach.

My prayer is that all disciples will open up to the power of the third member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. There are gifts to be received and fruit to grow in our lives and community of Saints.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 3:16.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 2:16–18.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 2:37–41.