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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Understanding the Holy Spirit

There seems to be a great divide in the church when it comes to the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, you have Cessationists who believe that the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit had ceased once the early church had been founded. On the other hand, you have Charismatics who believe that the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit is very much alive today. Both parties believe that the Holy Spirit is active, but is active in more functional ways. Most people in the reformed tradition, emphasize the ultimate authority of the Word of God as His revelation to us. There is a great weight placed on the sovereignty of God and the completed works of Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection. Most people in the Charismatic tradition emphasize that the power of God is manifested through a tangible encounter with God, whether it be a specific insight into a person's life, a prophetic word, miraculous healing, speaking in tongues, or even chasing demons away.

As for me, I consider myself a Reformed Charismatic. My leanings are towards a reformed tradition, but I would not dare ignore or discount the workings of the Holy Spirit in miraculous ways. I believe that it was a great insight into the nature and character of God through my mind that overwhelmed me emotionally. For me, I find that the roots of my encounters with God find water when my understanding of who He is and how He loves overwhelms me through what I learn of Him. Others though, find that they are most satisfied in actually observing God work miraculously in the lives of others. For them, it was the point of conversion so they desire that for others as well.

The sermon I posted below, I have found to be the best teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit. Tim Keller delves into an explanation of Romans 8 that leads to an understanding that the work of the Holy Spirit is to assure us, then reassure us of our standing with God. He makes mention that the work of the Holy Spirit is to lead us to the significance of the Cross and the sacrifice that Christ made in order that we may call God, "Abba, Father."

The Holy Spirit has three jobs: "first is to regenerate us by dwelling in us and making our spirit alive. The second is to sanctify us by putting to death our misdeeds and destroying our motivation for sin. The third job of the Spirit is to assure us that we are children of God and we belong to him."

One thing we must remember is that the fullness of the Father is in the Son, and the fullness of the Son is in the Holy Spirit. They are triune, not unipersonal or thi-theistic. All Three are One, yet they are very distinct at the same time. This makes the motivation of God love, not power or self-absorption.

What I hope, as I have been learning through my continuous interactions with those in Charismatic circles is that we can find an order of truth: that supremely, we can all rest in the love of God through our surrendering to His will, and how we experience that assurance is left to the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truths of the Gospel without us trying to force our own agenda.

In all of this, we must remember that God is still bigger than us and His wisdom extends much further than ours. This should allow us to experience both a peace and comfort in knowing that God will do what He knows is best and we should simply enjoy being His children to call Him Abba.

Tim Keller Sermon - Witness of The Spirit

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