Home > Brian's Blogs, Missional Church, Theology > What the Church Really Needs (3)

What the Church Really Needs (3)

If the power of the Holy Spirit is what the church really needs (and He is!), then how can we be filled with the Spirit?

I am a little hesitant to ask this question, much less attempt and answer. I’m hesitant because this is the kind of question that often leads to a response titled “Five ways to be filled with the Spirit today!” But the reality is, there is no methodology for receiving the Spirit. Frankly, proposing a methodology to receive the power of God is too similar to the God-manipulation found in false religions. I like how Cymbala says it in Fresh Power when discussing the healing in Acts 3:

“Please notice that Peter did not declare healing to every beggar at the temple gate that day, but only to one in particular. There is no basis anywhere in the New Testament for mechanical, assembly-line operation of any spiritual gift according to some whim of the Christian believer. Rather, every indication is that we need to be open and obedient to the moving and sovereign mind of the Holy Spirit” (p. 78).

Here are a few things I gather from God’s Word, Cymbala and others about living a life full of the Holy Spirit:

  1. The Bible is essential. The Bible is the very words of the Holy Spirit, so any life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit must be a life lived in light of Scripture. But remember, the Bible points beyond itself to the Triune God.  As Cymbala says, “we all must honor and love the Word of God, but there is no getting around that the Bible makes tremendous statements about the Spirit of God!” (p. 193.

On this point, I think it is essential that we get over our hesitancy to talk about living by the power of the Holy Spirit. Too many Christians in my Baptistic circles have overreacted to the abuses of some. Our overreaction has led to a practical denial of the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather, we need to get back into the Word of God and realize what it says about the Spirit and living by the power of the Spirit. Cymbala summarizes this well: “Without getting into the debates that have arisen about speaking in tongues, let us focus on the main point of this passage: God by his Spirit enabled ordinary men and women to do and say things beyond their natural abilities. They became supernaturally empowered. There was no human explanation for what was taking place” (p. 44).

  1. Prayer is essential. Prayer, as John Piper says, is the connection of our limp wire to the high voltage power line of God. In order to be full of the Holy Spirit we must pray that the Holy Spirit fills us!! This is exactly what Paul prayed for the Ephesians (3:14-21) and is exactly what we need to be praying every day. If Jesus needed to pray on a regular basis to be led by the Holy Spirit, don’t you think it is a good idea for us as well?
  1. Balance is essential. I like what Cymbala says, “The Christian life, like the life of Jesus on earth, is a combination of waiting and activity, of prayer and service. Jesus spent time alone with the Father in solitary places and then went forth in power to face incredibly busy days of ministry to needy people. Likewise, we must balance all our activities for him with time spent with him, waiting in expectant prayer and worship. We must avoid the idea that well-intentioned Christian service and doing things for God will ever amount to much without fresh infillings of the Spirit’s power” (p. 50-51).
  1. Community is essential. Cymbala doesn’t make this point, but the Bible is abundantly clear that each member of the Christian community is gifted by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) and the purpose of this gifting is to make us mature in Christ (Eph. 4). Therefore, if we want to be mature Christians who are filled by the Spirit, we must connect with the body of Christ.

There is a lot I don’t know about the Holy Spirit. There is a lot I don’t know about living by the power of the Holy Spirit. But this I do know: the Holy Spirit’s power is my greatest need and the greatest need of the church today. I don’t know how God will answer my prayer, but my daily prayer is Lord give us your power!

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