There is an ongoing trend of an emerging post-charismatic group f Christians. Partly I think as a response to the cultural excess and burnout of many charismatic traditions.
I think that burnout has often arisen from a focus on what Holy Spirit does in terms of the dramatic, gifts, power, and manifestations etc, with too little understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, and the work He was sent to do by the Father.
How the Holy Spirit is a person in relationship with the Father and the Son, with His work within creation, to transform us and creation in power, is something we mustn’t lose sight of. Who the Holy Spirit is, is much bigger than taxonomies and checklists of spiritual experiences.
Relationship Not Manifestations
The primary work of Holy Spirit in the New Testament is not about manifestations, but about an invitation into two key relationships, and two key confessions (1 Corinthians 12:3 & Galatians 4:6):
1) Abba/Father, and 2) Jesus as Kurios/Lord
The first thing the Spirit does is to bring us into relationship with God the Father and Jesus, in worship.
We become charismatic, not when we speak in tongues, prophecy or have strange feelings, but when we confess, and order our lives around Jesus as Kurios/Lord and God as Abba/Father.
What and how the Spirit manifests, takes place out of that relationship and reality, as side effects of that transformation. Locating my relationship, my identity, my work, and my aspirations within those realties of Abba Father and Jesus as Lord, takes the power of the Spirit.
The power that created the universe itself is required for the ordering of our lives around those confessions, because you and I are bent on living out of everything but that reality.
Three Misunderstandings of the Holy Spirit
1) Long practiced in Christian history, is the first misunderstanding - the idea that if I am holy enough, spiritual enough, Godly enough, then the Spirit is my reward.
2) Another form/version of this is the Spirit as reward for praying enough, claiming enough, being worked up enough. Revival movements have often been based around this approach.
Both of these approaches are wrong, for within them we become preoccupied with ourselves, of how we can receive spirit, by earning Him, or making Him manifest due to our insistence. We can’t earn the Holy Spirit, he is a gift, as Peter reminds us at Pentecost.
Act 2: 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
To often we try to construct secret prayers, methods, and demands to receiving the Spirit, when the Spirit is a gift, who helps enables us to receive him in the first place.
3) A third misunderstanding is that the gift of the Spirit is a gift just for me. Maybe we don’t practice christian austerity, and holiness, and we don’t spend hours in prayers meetings. Rather our thoughts for the Spirit are for Him to intervene and be involved in the lives we are building on our own, safely away from others, and the world.
When my needs, my wants, my crises, my hopes, and my aspirations come to the fore, then we ask the Spirit to help us.
Yet the Holy Spirit is God’s gift for ourselves, but not by ourselves. I’ll say that again, the Holy Spirit is God’s gift for ourselves, but not by ourselves.
At Pentecost the Spirit comes to others, for other with others, and experiences of the Spirit come mostly with ‘others’. The holy spirit does respond to my needs, my crises, my hopes, my aspirations, me. But He does so in the context of living in the world, with God as my father, with brothers and sisters in Christ, and with Jesus as Lord.
Wind, Water & Fire
John 3:8 The Spirit is manifest like wind: 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
John 7:37-39 Spirit is like water, 37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as[a] the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
And the Spirit is also like Fire, Matthew 3:11 ??I baptize you with[a] water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire, and Acts 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is a mysterious life energy, as water, wind, fire, that literally destroys one kind of life and gives birth to another.
A life of isolation from God, self and others, is destroyed as He enables us to live in the world as sons and daughters, with Jesus as our Lord, instead of responding to the endless demands of life, and other people.
Are we locked in a castle of tiredness, time poverty, limited resources, where we seek protection from ourselves and others. Would we like to enter into living our lives in the world, not alone, but with others, with God as our Father and Jesus as Lord?
That is something Jesus calls us to, for our identities and relationships, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
John 3:5-8: 5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”