A mature young Christian woman goes to her regular adult Bible study class. The teachers of the class are experts in Biblical counseling. Week by week they share from the Scriptures answers to common problems faced by individuals and families in today's culture. One Sunday after learning the "formula" for solving a particular problem biblically, our mature young woman asks, "But where is the Holy Spirit in all of this?"
A member of a sound evangelical church is a student in a class on Christian church history. He reads some articles written by a brother in the Lord that were assigned to the class. These articles by the well-respected author convey the attitude that only "university educated missionaries" have a broad enough perspective of God's kingdom to be truly effective on the mission field. Working class, Bible institute trained believers are too narrow because their focus is on evangelism only. Our student asks himself, "Where is the Holy Spirit in all of this?"
A young woman has walked with God from her childhood. She thinks to herself, "If I could just get my act together, God could really love me and use me." And so she sets out to do the spiritual disciplines with ever-increasing seriousness: Bible reading, prayer, fasting, ministry, Scripture memorization, etc. As her health breaks because of the stress of it all, she finally realizes "where the Holy Spirit IS in all of this."
It's only by the Holy Spirit that we can experience the unconditional love of God apart from our performance.
... God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5 ESV
It's only by the Holy Spirit that we can know and understand the truth of God.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you...
John 14:26 ESV
It's only by the Holy Spirit that we can even come to Christ in the first place.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God..."
JOHN 3:5 ESV
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning ...
I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
John 15;26-27; 16:7-10 ESV
And it's only by the Holy Spirit that we can experience the reality of the indwelling Christ.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:16-17 ESV
... the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27 ESV
I have been mulling over this question lately, "Where is the Holy Spirit in all of this?" Even though I have a degree in Bible-Theology from Moody Bible Institute, I am so grieved at how we in evangelical Christianity come at issues from a Biblically moralistic angle. We think that if we have the "biblical formulas" straight, we will experience God and His truth just because we know the theology of it all. And we think that our biblical knowledge will automatically change our behaviors.
Imagine then my delight this week as I read the following blog post by Pete Briscoe (Telling the Truth, "Experiencing Life Today," March 8, 2018). In it Pete dispels this error with the truth of God's word.
So I will close with Pete's post and with a song and with thanksgiving that the Holy Spirit IS here in all of this if we truly want to experience God and His truth. Praise Him!
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Then, through the theologians, they turned Him back into words again. — Karl Barth
We usually come at God intellectually. It’s one of the great mantras of Evangelicalism. You know the emphasis: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” We say that if you learn it, then you will live it!
Please hear me: I love to think! I love it when you think. It’s a good thing to think, I’m not saying it’s not! But hear me, experiencing “Christ in you” is not learned that way! Experiencing Christ in you is learned through God’s power, by His Spirit, as opposed to human wisdom. Consider Paul’s words:
When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God… No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. (1 Corinthians 2:1, 7)
One commentator said, “This mystery is too profound for human ingenuity.” Another said, “It is wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” This is not God’s Plan B. He thought of this long before He even created the world. This is God’s Plan A. He wants us to fully enjoy a mystery previously hidden, long prepared, and unfortunately, missed by most.
None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:8)
In other words, you can’t hear it, you can’t see it, and you can’t think it. I don’t care how smart you are, none of you can figure out on your own what God has prepared for those who love Him. The Apostle Paul could not be clearer: If you want to experience the mystery, you will not be able to do it coming at it from an intellectual position. It doesn’t work that way.
Dear Father, my brain can only take me so far. I thank You for good doctrine. I thank You for teachers and classes and books. But I need more than that. I need You. I need more than intellectual understanding; I want to experience this mystery. I want to experience the reality of being in You, and You in me. Make the Truth of Your Word come alive to me. Empower my heart, for I desire to walk in the strength of Your Spirit, not in the power of my own flesh. God, take me deeper, by faith, into the mystery of Your Son, Jesus Christ.