Perhaps some of you reading this will be surprised, some may be dismayed and some may be disappointed, but I hope all will be challenged to rethink their stance on the work of the Holy Spirit.
We’ve been working through Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches and at the beginning of chapter 3 Paul rebukes the disciples there for foolishly abandoning the purity and simplicity of faith in Jesus for their righteousness and once again embracing a works-based religious effort. In this same paragraph he says something quite remarkable about the work and presence of the Holy Spirit among them.
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith (Gal 3:5)
First, we have to see two important principles here: The Holy Spirit was clearly present and working miracles among the disciples. These things were normal in their experience. But also that the Holy Spirit was experienced as a result of the faith they placed in the work of Christ, after having heard and received the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit did not show up as a result of the Christians’ working in their own effort or trying to “work up” their faith to produce miracles. I believe that the Holy Spirit’s mission in this world and in the life of the Church is to validate the truth of the gospel through the demonstration of His presence and power. His mission is not to wow us with cool miracles or healings, but instead He shows up whenever Jesus is presented as if to say, “Yep, this is true. Let me show you.” Peter makes this point on the day of Pentecost.
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, (Acts 2:22)
And Jesus makes the same point in the Upper Room.
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (John 15:26)
In both cases the Spirit is presented as the one who points to Jesus. Once we separate the desire for the Holy Spirit’s presence from His mission, we have totally missed the point.
So I don’t think we will ever receive or see the Spirit operate when we are trying to work it up in the flesh or through our many “charismatic” gyrations. The Spirit responds to genuine faith not “confessions”, “declarations”, or “binding and loosing”.
Like the Galatians, we simply have to believe Paul when he said to focus on Christ crucified, on what He did on the cross, on living by faith “in the Son of God who loved me”. When we do this not only are we freed from sin and death but we also get the benefit of the Spirit working in and through us. Miracles happen when our focus is Christ and making him know (“publically portraying Him as crucified” – vs 1). The Spirit will always back up that message and if it takes a miracle or two to seal the deal then He will do it.
So often we focus on trying to get the Spirit to perform some miracle as if He was a type of circus performer, instead of respecting His mission to validate the Gospel of the Son through the demonstration of power. I think we’ve – I’ve – gotten it backwards before.
So as I walk through my day or am engaged in some ministry situation, I can relax. All I need to do is present Jesus. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit.