5 June 2014
Since the time i became a Christian, i have always been aware of the tension between the charismatic church and the non-charismatic church. People generalize this to mean those Christians who speak in tongues and those who don’t – or those who believe in the ability of the Holy Spirit to manifest himself in miracles today like those performed by Jesus and those who believe the Holy Spirit does not do any of that today.
Of course there are plenty who fall in between the two camps. One example would be someone like me.
Tonight i suddenly wondered what exactly Jesus meant when he said:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you”
I am not a biblical scholar but i wonder if Jesus was intimating that we should also celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit with us. It sounds as if Jesus was saying, don’t worry, i am leaving you, but i am bringing you someone else in my place to be with you all the time. The Holy Spirit is a person, but i seldom talk to the Holy Spirit or acknowledge His presence and feel much more comfortable asking for the presence of Jesus and God sometimes and avoid over emphasising the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
I think there is obviously something wrong with that. What if the Holy Spirit came first and did what Jesus did – bringing in followers who witnessed and heard the Holy Spirit, showing great miracles of healing and deliverance. And then, one day, the Holy Spirit said in a cloud to His disciples, I am returning to the Father but i am sending you Jesus. Jesus will be flesh and blood like you but He and I are one just as the Father and I are one. But when Jesus comes, the disciples are torn and some choose to emphasize or recognize less of Jesus and some even doubt if Jesus is really capable of doing the same works as the Holy Spirit. It’s as if Jesus was walking now in our midst, living in our town, but only a handful of Christians acknowledged the immense resource of being close to Jesus and having a direct and proximate relationship him. It’s like having a church that chooses to disassociate itself with the other church that frequently invites Jesus to be its honored guest. Silly right?
But that is exactly why it makes sense that Jesus left so that the Holy Spirit could be with us. Because the Holy Spirit is not contained in flesh and blood, He is free to be anywhere and with anyone at any time. He is the same deity as the Father and Son. If we believe in the Trinity then the Holy Spirit is no less God than Jesus is.
The Holy Spirit has been named many names, the Comforter, the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, the Counselor, the Intercessor, the Witness. And the Holy Spirit has come in different forms, as a dove, as wind, as fire and as a voice. Such is the Holy Spirit that the different manifestations point to the same person of the Holy Spirit. And i believe to a certain extent this has divided the church who sees the Holy Spirit as only being one or the other. The charismatic church may only see the Holy Spirit as fire and the Intercessor when speaking in tongues or even the Healer or Spirit of Life. But the Holy Spirit is present also in the non-charismatic church perhaps in the form of the Counselor, the Comforter and the Spirit of Truth.
The thing is – i believe there is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about the Holy Spirit in the whole church – charismatic or non-charismatic. Neither is completely right and neither is completely wrong. This is not a cop-out – but i believe the same is true with doctrines of Christianity as well just in the same way we have conservative baptists, evangelicals, and charismatics.
But one thing i know for sure, is that the Holy Spirit should be just as important to me as if Jesus would be, if He was standing right here next to me. Whilst not in flesh and blood, the Holy Spirit is with me, in me and for me. Ignoring Him or doubting Him or fearing Him doesn’t help me build a relationship with Him. I think i and the church actually needs the Holy Spirit more than ever before. As the Counselor and Spirit of Truth so that the church is not divided but united. So that the church is alert also to false teachings and poor doctrine but corrected by the Spirit of Truth and not by the spirit of rejection and the spirit of division or the spirit of fear. Let us choose the right spirit – let us choose the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, I ask you Lord, to open my eyes and heart to your Truth, and i also pray for the church as a whole to be sensitive and willing to allow You to work alongside us and lead us along the path of truth, purity and above all, love.