The Holy Spirit

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”   Acts 1, selected verses

This is one where I am asking you to write the ending for me. I truly am at a loss and invite your perspective on this dilemma of mine.

Here goes…

I’ve gone to church since my earliest memories. I suppose you could say I’ve been a Christian all my life.  I’ve never led a life of substance abuse or had (serious) mental issues.  I’ve been active in church since I was an acolyte and on up to church president.  Like Paul wrote in Romans, I don’t always behave as I should.  I give to church and Christian charities.  I’ve helped some strangers in distress, and done…tried to do what Jesus asks of us.  And I’m not trying to punch my ticket, so to speak.  I do these things, because I want to do what God wants me to do.

I’ve never had a “come-to-Jesus” epiphany. I’ve never had Jesus and/or the Spirit dry me out from whatever addiction, strengthen me to beat some sort of disorder, or had a life transformation.

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask[c] anything in My name, I will do it.  John 14:10-14

Yeah, no miracles either. In high school I went to a Christian coffee house near home.  One regular was deaf – prob’ly still is – and one evening after a bible study, I started thinking, “Why not ask God for a miracle and heal him of his adversity?”  That’s biblical, right?  And I really believed that sure, we could pray for him and ask for a healing.

When we asked him if he’d want that, he indicated, no, I’m used to being this way. I think I recall seeing something like fear in his eyes.

So, no epiphany, no becoming a new creature in Christ, no miracles. It’s just me trying to lead the life Jesus wants me to lead, hoping and praying I’m not one of those that He rejects, even though they did miracles in His Name.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Matthew 7:21-23

I know that there are different spiritual gifts. Not everyone gets to be a healer, but I don’t know ANYONE with that gift. You’d think SOMEONE at a church of the size I attend would have that gift. Or tongues.  Or prophecy.

So, now that I’ve spilled my guts and maybe look foolish, is there anyone else in my boat? Anyone who used to be in my boat?  Or is Satan deluding me into doubting salvation with these thoughts?

I’m not going to suppose anyone has the answer, but maybe, if this turns into a clearing blog entry of sorts, maybe we all get edified and/or educated.

I’m ringing the bell for round one. Everyone play nice and no hitting below the belt!

6 thoughts on “The Holy Spirit

  1. Consider reading my post: Holy Week Reflection: Freedom in Christ. In that post I explain how we have confidence in our salvation. If you believe in Jesus and follow Him, that is all that is required. There is no litmus test for certain spiritual gifts other than faith by the Spirit. Notice in the scripture you quote, those Jesus said He never knew, are those who did not do the will of God. What is the will of God?

    John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

    The Matthew 7 scripture you quote is dealing with false prophets and disciples. Those who may have believed that Jesus was the Christ but did not truly follow Him. Similar to the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 25–in which Jesus described those who are foolish and do not prepare their lives for following Christ. These people Jesus denied entry clearly believed in Him and called His name, but they were rejected because they were lazy and gave more attention to the world. These are the lukewarm believers talked about in Revelations 3:16. James also touches on this in James 2, where he discusses dead faith–that is, faith without following (or mere belief).

    So, that is a long winded way of answering your question about any concern for your salvation. If you love Jesus and follow Him, you are saved. Overt spiritual gifts, such as tongues, healing, etc., are not required. In fact, like you, I know of almost no one who even claims to have these gifts. There is a whole theology called Cessationism that says such gifts ended with the original apostles. I can’t say that for sure, because I recognize many believe in such gifts without hesitation.

    • BlitzMan! Good stuff! While I don’t recall having heard the term “Cessationism,” I have a handle on what it’s about. A couple things that may fly in the face of that. Two books you may be aware of; “Killing Christians” and “23 Minutes in Hell.” Both are accounts of Jesus coming to people in dreams and visions in the current time.

      Both books have of the ring of truth to them, especially the first. A pastor of mine years ago told me “God doesn’t do that anymore. We have the Bible so there’s no need.” I say we can’t put God in a box.

      So – and let me emphasize I’m theorizing here – would it be that big of a leap if Jesus does still come to people today as He did to the apostles to then say miracles can and are still done by the Spirit?

      To your earlier article’s point, denominations aren’t so important as following Christ. As I continue to search, I find myself not wanting to simply hold dogmatically to my upbringing but rather test and evaluate. By the way, that’s Missouri Synod Lutheran, fairly conservative.

      • Like I said I can’t say one way or the other. I’ve not experienced such gifts. Those gifts aren’t prevalent in my large Presbyterian church. But I have heard people say the gifts are real. My father-in-law is Church of God and they do all kinds of Spiritual gift things in their church, from slain by the Spirit, tongues, exorcisms, etc. It’s strange to me, but not something I would judge because I definitely believe in the Spirit’s work. I wonder about the Spirit of Truth versus Pentecost-type empowerment.

  2. I think a miracle occurs every time you write a post; even if it’s full of questions like this one. You made me think about my own beliefs in my own life. You are a natural healer with words, if that makes sense. Please don’t underestimate the power of the pen (or the laptop, I guess). Keep providing the light and encouragement that you’ve always provided. Your words are powerful and they are inspired by your convictions about Jesus. Thank you, Jeff.

    • Maybe miracles don’t have to be grand, just…effective, eh? You’re right. I’m always looking for the homerun ball. Some people translate prophecy as speaking communication, not exclusively predicting.

      Thank you for your comforting words! They made a difference for me today. I can only pray I can be of use to you and others in this network.

      Be well. I’m certain I’ll be in N Carolina within a few weeks. I’ll try to get you a message, if possible. Just call and leave a message at the building? God bless you!

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