For all who are led by the Spirt are sons of God

If the Holy Spirit is a divine person...

and if we are indwelt and empowered by that person...

and if that person can, does, and should actively lead us...

this is one strange religion.

From the book of the Acts of the Apostles:

And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.

And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.

And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.

What is our responsibility in light of this reality?

How should I live in light of the reality of being indwelt -- indwelt! -- by the third person of the Trinity?

12 comments:

The Six of Us said...

This is one of those "morphing" views for me right now. Going from a "you have the spirit so here is what you do" sort of thinking to a realization of my need for that Spirit and my inability to do anything apart from Him.

Someone else? It certainly does highlight great trust. I only wish it was as clear of leading as it seems.

The Six of Us said...

Just to add: isn't it a wonderful ans odd feeling when you realize that the religion you grew up in is so strange? THe things you accept as a child and then stand back and say "whoa! I believe some really perplexing things. Thank you, Father, for giving me faith!"

Janine the Bean said...

Okay, there's a big part of me that's exactly like Jodi. I wish it were as clear of a leading as it seemed to be with the apostles in Acts. I'm going to sort of ramble for a bit here...

I can think of plenty of times that I can say that I felt the Spirit's leading and was empowered by Him in a way that I could FEEL. And that was back in the Calvary Chapel days and in my earlier days of coming back to the faith. I do not discount anything that happened when I was there. And there's a part of me that feels something missing from my spiritual life as it is now. Something that was more vibrant. Perhaps I WAS more in tune to the Spirit's leading back then. Things happened then that do not happen now. I had an experience speaking in tongues that was VERY powerful...if you want to know more about it, then e-mail me and I will tell you more about it. But it was real; it WAS the Spirit. It was powerful.

Perhaps now I am (inside if not outwardly) one of the few charismatic-leaning Orthodox Presbyterians in the world. ??

Maybe it's a changing sense of what the leading of the Spirit looks and feels like. Perhaps I'm too distant from acknowledging the Spirit's presence in me now, perhaps it's just that it's not often a "fantastic" empowerment, but an everyday leading that I overlook and fail to acknowledge. But something has changed. I think at Calvary I was constantly reminded of the reality of His presence. And now we're in a very different church. I love our church. Really, I do. But I miss aspects of Calvary Chapel and I miss that awareness of the Spirit.

What is our responsibility? To be open to His leading I would say. To not doubt the power of the Holy Spirit who lives IN us. Wow! You know, brother, honestly it's been too long since I've thought long and hard about this subject.

How do we then live? Hmmm...perhaps not like I'm living now. More aware?

JPB said...

You know, the funny thing is this shouldn't be a Charismatic / non-Charismatic thing. After all, we're talking about the simple indwelling of the Holy Spirit and his role as guide. Even if someone was to reject the 'sign gifts' or 'prophecy' the rest of it should remain intact.

I'm right with you, though, Janine. Earlier in my life listening to the Spirit seemed a bit easier and certainly more 'dyanmic.' But I know I also made some mistakes. Maybe we get 'gun shy' because of that.

There is certainly something to what you say about learning to listen to the Lord in a different way and maybe not needing that dynamism in quite the same way. There is something to discernment, wisdom, etc. becoming an integral part of listening to the Spirit.

In a sense, I think as we begin to live with the indwelling of another person (and yet not in some demonic way where that person is at odds with our person), the relationship becomes more incarnational, more incarnate, and as we grow in Christ more 'unified.'

And yet ...

After all is said and done there is still an element in me that I need to wake back up, wake up more fully. I need to seek the Spirit's leading and not merely be comfortable with wisdom and discernment. I need to actively listen and eagerly obey, not just take what I know is the Spirit's leading as something to put into the mix.

I know plenty of adults who are very responsive to the spirit's leading and seem to grow all the more thereby in wisdom and discernment.

I think the incarnational nature of this all ... of the Body of Christ and the Spirit of God in his Body are all key to understanding, but listening and obedience must come first.

And I don't think my disposition is right enough often enough.

Janine the Bean said...

Jon,

You're right. It shouldn't be a Charismatic/non-Charismatic thing. And I think it all remains intact for me though I don't possess the gift of prophecy, tongues, healing, etc. But that one experience with tongues DID really wake me up to the power of the Spirit. It was an amazing experience. But it happened once for me...didn't continue.

We all make mistakes for certain. I do remember thinking sometimes, "How do all these people KNOW so clearly that it's the Spirit leading them and not just their own desire or pride?"

The following really resonated with me...

"...there is still an element in me that I need to wake back up, wake up more fully. I need to seek the Spirit's leading and not merely be comfortable with wisdom and discernment. I need to actively listen and eagerly obey, not just take what I know is the Spirit's leading as something to put into the mix."

I long for a Christian walk that's daily aware of the "Christ in me" and not merely the Christ that I believe in as a foundation for my life. Does that make sense?

I think I agree with you though, that as we grow, the relationship becomes more "unified."

The Six of Us said...

Josh and I have talked before about the different aspects of different churches. Not that it is right, but that it exists. In many ways, different churches focus much on different persons of the Trinity. Charismatic churches seem to focus largely on God the Spirit...His leading, indwelling,etc. Other churches Preach strongly on God the Father...His sovereignty, grace, etc. Actually, I appreciate Calvary for being balanced in their preaching on this subject. (at least our Calvary) Christ is always preached, yet in harmony with God and the Spirit.

I think you are right, Jon, when you say that upon making "mistakes" it is natural to become "shy" in fear of making those same mistakes. I have been here.

However, I think everyone here would agree that we must not shy away from seeking the Spirit...and all of His mysterious, indwelling, amazing, awesome ways.

I also don't think it has to LOOK one way or another to have a life marked by the Spirit of God. After all, it is not about having a charismatic personality or even doing those things which we would typically define as charismatic. (hand raising, speaking in tongues, emotional music, etc) (I do not speak of these negatively either).

One can just as easily be indwelt by the Spirit and be a quiet, hymn singing, suit wearing Presbyterian.

One of the views that is morphing is that the Spirit filled life, in my life, is very quiet, gentle, and peaceful.

J.J. said...

What exactly did James have in mind when he said "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him." If we ask God for wisdom in accordance with this passage, in what form will the answer come? I definitely think the Spirit can and does lead us im-mediately. But He can also lead us in a way that is mediated by Scripture or by our brothers and sisters. This is no less powerful and no less a work of the Spirit. I think it is a mistake to classify immediate works of the Spirit as true works of the Spirit and mediated works of the Spirit as purely human or natural.

In my experience (limited as it is), particular groups of Christians do a very good job of emphasizing one or the other of these. I've not run into very many people (myself included) who have an even-handed, balanced understanding (and experience) of the role of both. There is a sense of the reality of the REAL presence of God among Charismatic types that is good and healthy and should be learned from by non-charismatics. But there can also be an over-emphasis on immediacy and an under-appreciation for wisdom and discernment such that I begin to believe that God is going to whisper in my ear which breakfast cereal I should choose.

As a rule, I think Christians should stop labeling each other and acknowledge that we all have a lot to learn from each other.

JPB said...

JJ --

Yes, that's what I meant by life in the Spirit becoming more "incarnational" (and I meant to say "intimate" but repeated myself with "incarnate").

What I want to make sure I'm keeping intact as that happens, though, is a sense that even in that wisdom and discernment I am confident of being Spirit led. And that I's still open to and asking for other forms of guidance (gut feeling, still small voice, actual voice, words of someone else, scripture passages, etc.) All subject to the no less spirit-led wisdom, discernment and cultivation of a world-view.

Janine the Bean said...

As I was out running this morning, after I broke away from my running partners at the end, I ran for a bit longer to think more on this subject.

I agree with Jodi and all of you that a Spirit-led life doesn't have to be a Charismatic, speaking in tongues, prophesying life for everyone. The point of my comment was that it DID happen to me...once. And God really used that to open my eyes to His power. It was a specific incident in which the Spirit came upon me and I was able to communicate with someone in another tongue; a tongue which I did not speak. She understood what I said, but I did not. However, by the tears on her face, I know I said something very powerful to her. We embraced afterward and she said to me, "thank you my sister." So there, I shared it briefly. Now, from that incident, a new sense of God's power was awakened in my life. I kept wishing it would happen again. But it never did.

Now, at the time, I was involved with Calvary Chapel, where it is encouraged that you seek out the "gifts of the Spirit" and where at times you can feel left out, somewhat of a lesser Christian, not leading a "full life" if you're not a Charismatic hand-raising, "dynamic" Christian. And that can become a problem.

I think we all agree, there is not a guidebook in the Bible for what it looks like in practice to lead a Spirit-filled life.

I was thinking that one who is leading a life filled with the Spirit will (as Paul says) show the fruit of the Spirit in their life....

love
joy
peace
patience
kindness
goodness
faithfulness
gentleness
self-control

And then I focused on the first in the list...love. Which brought me to thinking about 1 Cortinthians 13... and WOW! I was hit by how this passage really ties into our conversation. Verse 8-9 really stuck out in light of the Charismatic aspect.

1 Corinthians 13

Love

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


And this should give me enough to think on for quite some time. Thought you might all enjoy hearing a bit of what goes on in my head when I run. ;) This could be a whole separate blog post.
Just thought I'd share since there's a lot about the Spirit-filled life in those two passages though.

JPB said...

Janine: "I agree with Jodi and all of you that a Spirit-led life doesn't have to be a Charismatic, speaking in tongues, prophesying life for everyone."

Except ...

Paul's admonition to the Corinthians in that little messed up first century church seems to be clear:

1 Corinthians 14:1-5
1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

It seems that the upbuilding of the church depends upon our recognition of spirit empowered prophecy at the very least, prophecy that should be "earnestly desired."

And the only way to get around this admonition is to say that there is some fundamental (Dispensational?) disconnect between that little congregation and mine. I just can't find any reason for that. As troublesome as it is and has often been to me.

I agree with what you say, and yet I don't want to use that to shield myself from what is uncomfortable, awkward and sometimes messy. And it seems to me that one of the things God had in mind for his people, indwelt by the spirit of God, was that they would be led togehter by their less-than-absolutely-authoritative 'inter-giftedness' in listening to the Lord.

Sometimes I'll tell you all how we do it in the People of Praise.

Janine the Bean said...

So, what I was trying to say is that not everyone who is a Christian has or will ever have the gift to prophesy or the gift of speaking in tongues. I don't think those gifts are bad. And I believe that they can still be used today.

I agree, it can get messy. It seemed like at Calvary, tongues was a very "desired" gift, much as it was in Corinth and Paul makes it clear that is was a lesser gift. It seemed at times that it turned into an issue of who was "more spiritual." But perhaps that was just my perception of the whole issue.

It's clear in the Bible that we will not all have the same gifts. This from 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit . . . for to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will”

The same Spirit is working in all who are called.

Janine the Bean said...

I'm anxious to hear "how you do it at People of Praise" as you say.