As a church, we believe that at the center of the universe is a relationship. We believe in the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God in three Persons. And yet, when it comes to the trinity and our engagement of God in the practical parts of our lives and church, many people have a hard time knowing what to do with the Holy Spirit. Most people get the Father. Still others are fine with Jesus. But this Holy Spirit… what to do with Him? The further one moves into any Holy Spirit conversation, the more binary it becomes as people want to force you to pick between two camps. Are you… Pentecostal or Evangelical? Charismatic or Reformed? About the Word or the Spirit? Truth or experience? Do you seek the fruit of the Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit? As a church, we are seeking what Gordon Fee calls “life in the radical middle.” We desire both character and gifts, both Word and Spirit, both fruit and fire. Over the next six weeks, we will spend some time listen to the Apostle Paul’s conversation with the believers in Corinth to see how the Spirit forms our life as Christ’s body. The vision that God has for His church cannot be attained without a robust understanding and whole-hearted embrace of the Spirit.
This was a special Sunday gathering for Pentecost — a sweet and beautiful time of worship and celebration.
As the Apostle Paul continues his "spiritual" discussion into 1 Corinthians 14, he unpacks what biblical love looks like among a gathered church community. After giving lots of theology, Paul moves to practice. While he does offer more details about the role of tongues and prophecy, he explains that there are greater Holy Spirit principles at play. What should a person expect to experience when showing up for church? Entertainment? Excellence? A spiritual gift free-for-all? 1 Corinthians 14 offers a corrective voice to the Corinthian community and provides some practical rails for us today. A Spirit-led gathering should come with expectations around (1) Edification, (2) Intelligibility (3) Effective Witness and (4) Order. The movement of the Spirit among the people of God will always build up, stir up and clear up one's heart for Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
Before we dive further into specific gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, this basic question must be answered: What is needed for a person to experience the fullness of the Spirit? We all have heard stories and carry with us our own personal experiences, but what does the Bible say? This week we will take a quick tour of the Spirit's work- in the Old Testament, in Jesus, in the early church- to see what remains true for us today. How does the Holy Spirit operate within and upon the people of God? And, using Luke 11:5-13 as our guide, we will unpack how a person seeks more.
While podcasts are amazing reservoirs of information, inspiration and instruction, they potentially have two dangers. First, they can feed our tendency to have our information outpace our obedience. And secondly, they can put us in a passive consumer position. Where this intersects the church, we can settle for "podcast Christianity"- a life of passive consumption where we gather information with no active participation. Such a reality is incompatible with a biblical vision of life in the Spirit. This week, as we move further into 1 Corinthians 12, we find Paul's underlying presupposition for the Corinthian church: that God is eager to manifest His personal presence in the world through all of His people. We will unpack four main phrases in this passage that serve as helpful guideposts for this kind of spiritual life. Full and active life in the Spirit is so much better than a podcast.
Before diving into the specifics of Paul, Corinth and the letter of 1 Corinthians, we stand in need of a more foundational and big picture conversation about the Spirit. In the same way that Paul did not want the Corinthian believers to be uninformed about "spirituals," we don't want to be ignorant or uninformed too. This week, we will be talking about two roadblocks to any conversation about the Spirit of His gifts- the possibility of the Spirit and the person of the Spirit. Our western, materialistic worldview shapes our engagement of things in the spiritual realm and our inherent mislabeling of the Spirit as a "force" or an "it" also gets in the way. Our hope is to pave a path that allows us to step into life in the "radical middle."