Christianity 201

April 27, 2015

Owning the Holy Spirit

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:28 pm
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This week at church highlighted a truth about the Jesus telling his disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. The first thing Jesus said would happen is focused on the world; on the non-followers.

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment…  (NIV)

The phrase in verse 8 you are probably more accustomed to hearing is, “he will convict the world of sin…” (NASB & others). But familiar as this is, we tend to overlook that this is directed to those we could call today ‘outside the Church.’

Instead, we think of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer.

We certainly get this a few verses later.

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

The difference between this and verse eight is that we often overlook the activity of the Holy Spirit in the world at large. We forget that God is, by His Spirit, already planting seeds in the hearts of people, already making a difference by His very presence. We look at the situation of the ‘lost’ as though their salvation all depends on human effort; as though it all depends on us.

We also do this in other areas:

  • A Christian pastor has a large church but also has a unique gift of defining the gospel without using the words and phrases to which some of us are emotionally attached. His ministry is condemned because seasoned Christians are judging it in terms of how it touches them instead of how it effective it is being in the lives of those unfamiliar with Christian doctrine. It’s simply easier to attack it than to understand and embrace the pastor’s philosophy of ministry.
  • A Christian author writes a book that also uses terminology and situations not generally associated with the proclamation of the Gospel, and the book is a huge hit with unbelievers and, over the passage of time, many see it as the thing that started them on the road to genuine faith. But conservative Christians find the imagery so different from that used in the Bible that they condemn the author as a false teacher, ignoring the potential that God can and is using it.
  • A member of my church has a great 1:1 evangelism ministry with people he knows from the shop floor of his workplace, and his weekend hobby as a biker. As a result, he often meets people to discuss spiritual interests in a local bar. He is roundly criticized by other people in the church for the inappropriateness of the context where his witness and discipleship conversations are taking place, who fail to see the fruit of the ministry.

You get the pattern. But if the Holy Spirit of God was first sent to the world to convict of sin, we have to realize that we, the religious set, don’t own the Holy Spirit.

Yes, He is a gift to the believer and to the Church, but the Holy Spirit is also a gift to the world.




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