It seems that the more outlandish those given to a charismatically influenced expression of Christianity become, the more those on the other end of the spectrum – most notably reformed believers – recoil and rebuff any talk of the present ministry and power of the Holy Spirit.
In my view both extremes are in error. Let me explain.
Believers should rightly denounce behaviors such as barking like dogs, roaring like lions, laughing hysterically to the extent of falling out of chairs and rolling on the floor, as well as promoting such nonsense as gold teeth appearing in people’s mouths and so-called “angel dust” appearing in the pages of Bibles. These manifestations have no biblical support and are demonically inspired behavior in my opinion. Nowhere in the New Testament do we see this kind of activity described or prescribed for the church. The one instance of a man rolling around on the ground in an uncontrollable manner was due to demon possession.
On the other hand all denunciations of the work of the Holy Spirit in manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are equally in error. Many believers given to a reformed view of theology act as if the Holy Spirit packed up shop and left after Pentecost.
The Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is presently active in the lives of all believers; More so in those who acknowledge the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts is a long testimony to what God will do through His spirit-filled people.
Consider for example that Jesus stated in Acts 1 that His followers would receive power from the Holy Spirit. There is no expiration date on the Holy Spirit’s working in the life of a believer. We see this demonstrated three chapters later. In Acts 4 Peter and John are brought before the Jewish religious leaders who are puzzled by the success of these simple followers of Christ, who are winning the hearts and minds of the people of Jerusalem. At issue in this incident was the healing of a lame man in the name of Jesus.
What puzzled the Jewish religious leaders the most? Was it the lack of correct theological training in the rabbinical schools of the day? I am sure that did cause some concern; but what really bothered the religious leaders was their unfamiliarity with the power behind the disciple’s healing of the lame man. Note Acts 4:7 where they ask: “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” referring to the healing of the lame man. Luke records Peter’s response as having been provided by the Holy Spirit in verse 8.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the present work of the Holy Spirit in believer’s lives when he says in Romans 8:11 that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. Furthermore, Paul instructed the Galatians to remember that their spiritual life in Christ was begun by the power of the Holy Spirit and continues by that same power, not our fleshly efforts.
This same warning is applicable for believers today. We must be careful not to attribute works to the Holy Spirit that have no basis in Scripture. Likewise, believers must be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit in their lives in the same manner as demonstrated in the New Testament. There are many gifts God desires to give to His people for the building up of the body but alas, theological systems have become straight-jackets for some.
Friends, God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). An interesting and often overlooked truth about this statement is that it is given within the context of the Apostle Paul speaking about spiritual gifts, and especially the gift of prophecy. Many Christians are keen to state that “we need to let the Bible speak” when it supports their belief system. They are not so keen to make that statement when the context does not.
My goal has been and I pray by the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, will always be to allow the Holy Spirit to speak the Bible’s truth to me regardless of whether I happen to agree or not. We must be sure we maintain a teachable spirit folks. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “My job is not to protect you from your Bible.” You should never try to blunt or ignore what the Bible says. If our belief comes into conflict with what the Bible teaches then you not it must adjust.
In these days as in the past, God is looking for faithful servants who will submit to the leading of His Holy Spirit. What could be done by a remnant that is empowered by the Holy Spirit? I believe great and marvelous things for the glory of God, the building of His Kingdom, and the salvation of many.
Let us press on in this work by the same Holy Spirit power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead!