I’ve grown up in a Pentecostal church environment. I am glad that I have. But if you’ve grown up in church, you know that every type of church has good, bad, and ugly aspects to it. Why is this? Because every church is filled with human beings, and as the Bible clearly reveals to us, human beings are sinful, fleshly, flawed, and fallible. Thank God Jesus isn’t. Thank God that Jesus is God, that He came to earth and lived a sinless life, died as a substitute for sin, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will one day return to claim His bride. Thank God all of that is true. And because it’s all true, we can live today with a real “blessed hope,” even as we wrestle with our own sin and the sin of our brothers and sisters in the church.
The term “Pentecostal” comes from early in the book of Acts, when the disciples experienced some radically life-changing events after Jesus ascended into heaven. Let’s pick up the story in Acts 1:
To them he presented himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Notice the difference between the perspective of Jesus and the perspective of his followers at this point.
As Jesus speaks with his followers, they seek immediate results in the flesh, manifestations of their desires fulfilled, and a kingdom of power where they will realize their nationalistic dreams. Could it rightly be said that their instictual reaction to the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is fleshly? Doesn’t it appear that in regard to their experience of the Holy Spirit, they are all about themselves?
He tells them to be patient, promises them “baptism” or “immersion” in the Holy Spirit, re-emphasizes the sovereignty of God (vs. 7), and makes them aware that the power they will receive will be power to point others to HIM. The evidence that will reveal that they are immersed in the Holy Spirit will be their engagement of His mission to the world.
You see, that’s the job of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit ALWAYS points to Jesus.
This shouldn’t be news to us, and it shouldn’t have been news to these first-century followers. Why? Because Jesus said this over and over again:
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Back to my original purpose of this blog. As Pentecostals, I would say (and when I was immature, I admittedly made this mistake as well) we have a tendency to focus attention on the Holy Spirit at the exclusion of Jesus. We at times fall into the trap of putting so much emphasis on the Holy Spirit that we miss Jesus and His mission.
You know what’s crazy about this? If we do this, we actually grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, but do you realize that if we focus on Him then we’ve actually missed Him? Why? Because if we actually have Him, we’ll be focused on Jesus and engaged in His mission, because that’s what the Holy Spirit is about!
So, it would seem that if someone is really “Spirit-filled,” then he or she wouldn’t be overly concerned about being identified as (or obsessed with) being “Spirit-filled.” The truly “Spirit-filled” believer is the believer who could rightly be described as “Jesus-focused” and “mission-engaged.” You know you have the Holy Spirit actively working within you when your concern isn’t that He is working in and around you, but that YOU are working with Jesus on His mission.
My motivation for this blog (and the others to come on this subject this week) is the abundance of things I hear from those who are really concerned about the Holy Spirit, but don’t seem to:
1) Reflect Him in their lives by exemplifying His fruit (Galatians 5)
2) Care very much about lost people
3) Show the fruit of being engaged in the mission of Jesus to their culture
For those of you who are really concerned about the Holy Spirit being active in your life and in your church, I have a word from the Holy Spirit for you:
“If you’re all about Me, you’re missing Me, because I’m all about Jesus.”