As we move forward in understanding our CCM Foundations at a deeper level we address today one of the more confusing, and divisive parts of modern day Christianity. Here at CCM we desire biblical balance in understanding and applying the Holy Spirit in our lives. I am confident that you have heard many different teachings on the Holy Spirit and probably all of them consist of areas of biblical truth, and also areas of doctrinal interpretation. As your Senior Pastor, I very much appreciate our view of the Holy Spirit, and believe it is very balanced in scripture but also allows for the kind of freedom that the Holy Spirit himself wants to have in each of our lives. In fact our view of the Holy Spirit was one of the things that really drew me to be a part of the HeartLink/Cornerstone network of churches. I hope you enjoy Pastor Gerald's thoughts.
Foundations Material - The Power of the Holy Spirit - Pastor Gerald Martin
The Power of the Holy Spirit
Before Jesus left earth to return to heaven following His resurrection, He told his disciples that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them and they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.Furthermore, he instructed them not to attempt anything until they received this power. They were to go back to Jerusalem and wait for it. On the day of Pentecost as they were waiting the Bible says there was a noise like a rushing mighty wind and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
This event brought a radical change in the life of the disciples. Where before they had been timid and fearful hiding behind locked doors they now became bold, fearless witnesses sharing the gospel with everyone they met. No longer dependent on their own natural abilities they discovered supernatural power to do extra ordinary things. They healed the sick. They worked miracles. They preached the gospel with power. When brought before the local authorities and commanded not to preach in the name of Jesus, they simply declared that they must obey God rather than man.
The Bible says that when the authorities saw their courage and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). The disciples recognized that it had nothing to do with them but was a direct result of the Holy Spirit working through them. In explaining what was happening, Peter declared that it was what was spoken through the prophet Joel, “And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘ that I will pour forth of my Spirit on all mankind…both men and women (Acts 2:17-18).”
The church we read about in the Bible was clearly a Holy Spirit filled and empowered church.In contrast to that much of what we see happening in the church today has little if anything to do with the power of the Holy Spirit. Too often we try to do the work of God without the power of God. Many Christians try to live the Christian life without the power of God. The result is what Paul said to Timothy, that in the last days people would hold to a form of godliness but deny it’s power (II Tim 3:5).
Many Christians today are like the believers that Paul met in Ephesus. He asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. They said, no we haven’t even heard there is a Holy Spirit. Paul asked them what baptism they received. They said John’s baptism. Paul then told them about Jesus and they were baptized in the name of Jesus. At that point they were saved. Then he placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them.
The Holy Spirit “Within” and “Upon”
A difference that many Christians fail to recognize is the difference between the Holy Spirit in us and the Holy Spirit upon up. The Holy Spirit “within” saves us. The Holy Spirit “upon” empowers us.That may seem like a small difference but the implications are quite large. God never intended for us to simply be saved but to be witnesses. But in order to be effective witnesses we need the power of the Holy Spirit upon us. Otherwise we are limited to our own natural abilities.
We believe that God’s will is for every believer to not only be saved but also to be empowered by the Holy Spirit for supernatural works like we read about in the book of Acts.So, if we don’t experience what we read about in the Bible, what is the problem? Some try to explain it by saying that God has changed the way he works.It may have taken the miraculous to get the church started but once it was established, healings, miracles and the other supernatural gifts of the Spirit were no longer needed.
I guess if one is looking for an excuse that’s as good as any. But to me it seems pretty arrogant to blame God for our lack of vitality and spiritual power. The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The church we read about in the Bible is the same church we belong to today. If it doesn’t seem that way, whose fault is it really? While it may be convenient to say God changed his plan, the Bible simply doesn’t support such a notion. The Bible nowhere gives even a hint that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit that were given to the church on the day of Pentecost were rescinded.
One Scripture that is sometimes used to support the idea that spiritual gifts have ceased is I Cor.13:3 where it says prophesy, knowledge and tongues will end. However, what is often not noted is the timing. They will end when the perfect comes. This is a clear reference to the time of Christ’s return. God’s plan for the church has not changed from what we read about in the New Testament. Whether or not we ever fully experience it that way has to do with our faith, obedience and full surrender to His will and purpose.
Speaking In Tongues
Probably the most controversial aspect of any teaching on the Holy Spirit has to do with speaking in tongues. Do you have to speak in tongues in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit? While we are not dogmatic about it, our understanding is that it’s not that we have to but rather that we get to. The Bible seems to indicate that while not everyone receives the gift of tongues to speak a message in the church assembly every Spirit filled believer has the privilege of speaking in tongues in prayer and intercession and in praising God.
In the matter of tongues we have purposed to stay close to what the Bible says. Therefore, while we encourage the use of tongues in one’s private devotions and personal expression of praise and worship we discourage it in addressing the congregation.In I Cor. 12 the Apostle Paul makes it clear that in the public worship celebration it is better to speak in a language that everyone understands. In fact he goes so far as to say that he would rather speak five words in a known language than 10,000 words in tongues. Was he against tongues? To the contrary, he goes on to say that he wishes they all would speak in tongues and that he himself speaks in tongues more than all of them.
The question is not whether speaking in tongues is for today. It’s obvious from reading the book of Acts that it was part of the experience of the New Testament church. So, if it had value and edified the believers then it certainly has value and is needed today. We try to give everyone joining our church an opportunity to learn about and personally enter into the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. However, it’s not something we are dogmatic about or require.On occasion we have had a prophetic message in tongues with interpretation during our worship celebration but for the most part such messages are spoken in a known language.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that prophetic words are for edification, exhortation and consolation. In general that is what we use to judge a prophetic word. We caution our people about putting too much stock in directional kinds of prophecy. What I mean by that is prophetic words that give specific direction to another person’s life. For instance, a specific word spoken over someone like who to marry, where to live or what to do are directional prophecies. We believe that persons need to hear from God for themselves.
The value of praying and prophesying over someone is not to give new information but to confirm what God may already been speaking to their heart.For example, in ministering to one another there are times when God gives to one person a specific word for someone else only to discover that God had already spoken that same word to that person. It not only serves as a confirmation for the person being ministered to but also confirms that the one speaking is hearing from God.I will have more to say about that in a later chapter when I outline our understanding of the one another ministry.
We need to exercise caution and humility when it comes to speaking words from God. No prophetic message to the church is 100% God speaking. There is always a mixture between what God is placing on a person’s heart to say and what may be coming from within the person’s own mind. That’s not to say it doesn’t have value. It can have great value. We just need to understand that every time someone declares a “thus says the Lord” it’s not a direct word for word message from God. That’s the reason the Bible says we are to judge prophetic words that are given in the church.
When I give a prophetic word I tend to frame it something like this. I sense or have a hunch God may be saying this to you. Weather we are speaking or being spoken to we must all keep in mind that it is the Holy Spirit that ministers. We are but human channels through which his power flows.
I am not sure how this lines up with the spiritual traditions that have been planted into your lives. But I am hopeful that you can see, and experience the biblical balance that is evident in what Pastor Gerald is sharing. Here at CCM we believe that we need the Holy Spirit to be saved, and we need the Holy Spirit to empower us to do the work that the Lord Jesus has for us to do both as a church but also individually. We do not ever want to force the Holy Spirit we believe the Lord knows each person more intimately than we do, and so we can trust the Holy Spirit to minister into each life as He sees fit. This may play out in many different forms and there is no cookie cutter element to how the Holy Spirit will work in each of us. Please take some time to read this again, and then spend some time with the Lord so that He can speak to your heart in this very important element of the Christians life.