“We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.”
-EFCA Statement of Faith
Power! People talk about power encounters, power evangelism, power prayer, power of faith, power of positive thinking. What’s next? Power ties that pastors can wear on Sunday mornings to give powerful messages. Might the word, “power” be overused? Do we need to “plug into” some amazing power source for there to be a steady flow of miracles seen in our lives?
Miracles! That’s another word that is overused. We say, “It is a miracle I found that parking space.” Or “It’s a miracle I made it there on time.” Or “It’s a miracle my baby slept all night.” Or “It’s a miracle I didn’t have to wait at all at DMV.” Ok, that one might actually be a miracle. If everything is a miracle and miracles happen all the time, they would be called, “regulars.”
When it comes to the Holy Spirit, we immediately associate it with power or mind-boggling miracles. As I said this past Sunday, as we looked at the marks of a Spirit-filled life from Ephesians 5:18-21- phenomenal remarkable occurrences aren’t on the list of traits in the section that speaks of being Spirit-filled. It is wrong to say that they can’t happen. But it is wrong to say that they must happen.
In the person of the Holy Spirit, we do have the source of His power living in us. As Chuck Swindoll puts it, “But in no way does this mean that with the snap of our fingers we can expect to invoke some supernatural manifestation. It doesn’t work like that- it never did.”
But wait, Pastor, what about the book of Acts? There are healings, prison doors miraculously opening up, casting out of demons just through touching handkerchiefs and aprons, Paul unaffected by a viper and story after story of God’s intervention. What do we make of the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit’s activity in the early church? Entire denominations have been formed on the interpretation of the book of Acts.
I think it is important to realize the transitional nature of what took place in Acts. It was a unique time of Jesus ascending into heaven and the promised Holy Spirit arriving in His place. The issue to be resolved is to what degree the happenings recorded for us in the book of Acts is to be duplicated today. Is it descriptive or prescriptive? In other words, was it written down for us to describe what took place or is it prescribed in that we are to be that church in practice and not only principle?
There is so much we can learn from the Acts of the Apostles about our witness in the world, our doing life together in community, and the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. In a Spirit-filled church, it would be wrong to say that the manifestations seen in Acts can’t happen today. But it is just as wrong to say that they must happen.
Most of the Christian life is not lived hour by hour, day after day in the spectacular. But because the Spirit of God does live in us hour by hour, day after day we can expect a close “Abba relationship” with the living God. We can expect a capacity to understand the Word of God. We can expect inward joy even among trials, peace when there seems to be every reason to panic, and inner assurance that we belong to God.
As we surrender to His control, we can enjoy the presence of the Spirit. And “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). What do you need freedom from right now? Cry out for the Spirit of God, allowing Him to fill you, and release you from whatever is robbing you of freedom.