Friday, August 25, 2006

The Holy Spirit

I have been meaning to post something all week. In fact, I have three essays that I’ve abandoned on my laptop – they are now metaphorically balled up and thrown into the corner. The papers were all on the topic of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I’m in the middle of a four-week preaching series on the Holy Spirit. I’m also leading our Wednesday Bible study through a “Doctrine of God” series and we’re studying the work of the Holy Spirit right now. I have lots to say on this topic, but I can’t boil anything down satisfactorily for the blog. I don’t want to start a new series, but I can give you some thoughts in point form:
  • The more I study the person and work of the Holy Spirit the more I am amazed at the wonderful interaction between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Just look at Acts 2:33, for instance. Connect that to John 14-16 and Titus 3:3-8, and many other places. Wow.

  • Another key doctrine that has risen to the surface in this study is the centrality of the church. The church is extremely important to God. Consider this thought alone: Paul says that the spiritual gifts are for the purpose of building the church up to maturity (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4). The gifts of the revelation writing and speaking Apostles are included in gifts lists. Therefore, even the work of the Apostles was for the purpose of building up the church. The preaching / teaching / serving ministry of the local church is at the centre of God’s redemptive purposes. This should be a no-brainer for anyone who has read Ephesians 3, for instance, but it is a truth that needs to be recovered in our day.

  • I am becoming more of a soft cessationist, even though I’ve always considered myself a moderate / cautious continuationalist. My reasons are biblical, though I can’t point to any one passage and say, “There, you see! The sign-gifts aren’t for today!” For instance, I am not convinced by the 1 Corinthians 13 argument for cessation. However, the combination of a better understanding of the purpose of miracles generally in scripture and the definition of the purpose of the charismata in 1 Corinthians has pushed me a little to the right of the thin line between these positions.

  • Even though I first studied Paul’s use of Isaiah 28 in 1 Corinthians 14 many years ago, I’m really fascinated all over again at that passage. Read 1 Corinthians 14:21-26 carefully. Now read the context of Isaiah 28:11. What was Isaiah talking about? What was the problem with the leaders in Israel? Why did Paul quote this verse in the context of tongues? What, if anything, did the events in Acts 2 have to do with this sign for unbelievers? Last but not least, what troublesome trajectory was the Apostle Paul seeking to correct for the Corinthian Church with respect to “super spirituality” regarding their leaders and their desire for spectacular gifts? I may post on this some day, but I think I would need a series to answer these questions. For that, I would need more holiday time, and that’s all gone for this year.

Speaking of time that’s gone, I need to run. You’re probably thankful that I didn’t go longer on these topics (I know I am), but I probably won’t let them go entirely (I have to preach on the so-called sign gifts on Sunday, for instance). Leave some good, provocative comments and I might just burn the midnight oil re-working some abandoned posts.

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