Is the Holy Spirit Underemphasized In Evangelical Circles?
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
Sometimes we hear people say that the Holy Spirit is the "forgotten person," or that he has been ignored and that we need to bring the Holy Spirit back in full force. How do you orient on that issue?
I have been around long enough to know that there are seasons when the Holy Spirit is over attended to. And there also are seasons when he is under attended to.
If you are asking me about right now, I would say that he is probably under attended to somewhere. Maybe in young, reformed and restless circles—or whatever this movement is called. Especially as it concerns the fullness of the work of the Holy Spirit. Not his role in effectual calling, but his gifts. His necessity for powerful witness. 'Wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes upon you... You will receive the Holy Spirit and you will be my witnesses.' So maybe we are underemphasizing the necessity and the power of the Holy Spirit for witnessing.
Also, I was just thinking the other day that we downplay the work of Holy Spirit in terms of his varied gifts. This is underemphasized too much in our reformed churches, and in typical evangelical churches.
Here is an illustration. If you've been praying for a person, or maybe even for yourself, to be delivered from a sin or sickness. And if that moral or physical issue hasn't yielded to your prayer for years, but you still struggle from the moral or physical ailment, there are a few things to consider.
One absolutely biblically correct factor to take into consideration is God's sovereign timing. He wants you to pray and he is going to answer you, but it may not be for 13 years. In David Mathis' teaching the other night on Psalms, he drew attention to the fact that Joseph was sold into slavery and didn't understand why he was going through tremendous pain for 13 years. But when he became the vice president of Egypt and saved the seed of the Messiah, it all became clear. "OK, now I get it Lord, I'm willing."
But at year 6... 7... 8... 9... 10... 11... 12... you are saying, "God I'm trying to be faithful and I get lied about. I get thrown in prison. What is up with your children being treated this way?"
Everybody has stuff like that in their life. And timing is one answer. What about gifts being another answer?
Here's what hit me the other day. If there are gifts of healing. If there are gifts of faith, gifts of miracles, gifts of discernment. That means some Christians are going to be granted answers to those prayers where others aren't. So maybe the reason I'm not getting the answer to my moral struggle or my physical struggle is because I haven't asked Jane to pray for me. And Jane has the gift of healing. Or Jane has the gift of discernment of spirits and can see something here that needs to be seen.
But I've locked myself in my closet, "God save me. God help me. God strengthen me. God deliver me!" And God is saying, "Uh... I have taught you about spiritual gifts and you don't ever avail yourself of them. Don't come complaining to me saying that I haven't responded to you when I have gifts waiting for you and you never open the package."
So I think that I could do better, and we can do better at that level.
So the answer is that in various groups, various ministries of the Holy Spirit are probably underrated and underemphasized.
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