Dealing and Revealing
“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.”–Review and Herald, March 22, 1887,
There are two things God is constantly and persistently doing in my life personally.
Dealing and Revealing.
Let me explain.
God is dealing with me personally about areas in my life that need to change and simultaneously revealing to me the painful process that will produce those changes.
God not only does that with me personally but also theologically and philosophically.
Specifically, God has been showing me the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit and illuminating to me from His word the indispensable nature of the work of the Spirit in the my life and the lives all of believers. It is hardly possible to study the New Testament without bumping into a mention or reference of the Holy Spirit in each of the twenty-seven books. As a matter of fact there are around 260 references of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. He is mentioned fifty-six times in the Gospels, fifty-seven times in the book of Acts, 112 times in the Pauline epistles, and thirty-six times in the remaining New Testament.
I think you get the point.
The Holy Spirit was so important to Jesus that he actually said it was better that He leave so that the Spirit could come (John 16:7). But if there is a text in the scriptures that shows how important the Holy Spirit is, it has to be when Christ declared that all sins would be forgiven except the sin against the Spirit (Matthew 12:31).
The Holy Spirit is a big deal
Even in the writings of Ellen White, she goes so far as saying that the “greatest and most urgent of all our needs” as a church is a “revival” of the “Holy Spirit” and seeking this should be our “first work” (1 Selected Messages p. 121.1). The bottomline is the Holy Spirit is a big deal to God and should be big deal to His people. So the question is: If the Holy Spirit is so important in the Bible and writings of Ellen White why does it seem for the most part that so little emphasis is placed on having Him in our lives and our churches?
As Adventists we seemed to have placed more value on keeping the Sabbath versus receiving the Spirit. Don’t get me wrong the Sabbath is very important, but in the Bible more emphasis is placed on having the Spirit than keeping the Sabbath. If Jesus Christ is to have preeminence in the church how can this happen without the Spirit? The truth is it cannot happen. Maybe this is why so many of our churches are dying; why marriages are breaking up in record numbers and why we have lost and are continuing to lose our young people. We have the form of godliness but the power of God is missing (2 Timothy 3:5).
War of Extremes
We are at war. Not against flesh and blood but against the devil and all his forces (Ephesians 6).You can tell what the devil is afraid of by what he tries to keep you from doing. He doesn’t mind you attending church and doing religious things as long as you don’t have the presence of the Spirit of God in you. Satan not only loves to distract us from the ministry of the Holy Spirit but also wants to create confusion about His work. If he can get us to lean to extremes regarding the Spirit of God in either direction he has succeeded.
The Point of Controversy?
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”–A.W. Tozer
From my experience Adventists have leaned mostly toward defending doctrines such as the Sabbath, end time prophecy, state of the dead, health reform, dress reform, etc. Consequently we have leaned away from what Ellen White calls “primitive godliness” such as the importance of being born again through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our problem, is not a over emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but an under emphasis of the Spirit. The late Dr. A. W. Tozer, author and pastor, some 50 years ago said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
Could it be that we are overlooking the main thing that God wants us to focus on? Could it be that we are blind to the reality of our greatest need? Could it be that we are celebrating our successes but grieving the Spirit? Could it be that we think we have everything but in essence have nothing, if we don’t have the Spirit?
Stay tuned for 5 more blogs on this topic…