Romans 8:15-16 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
This passage makes me wonder if there aren’t a lot of church members who have never received the Holy Spirit. Many indeed seem to be slaves to one sort of fear or another, and it’s very sad. In particular, they often seem to lack an awareness that they are children of God, and as this declares, that awareness is a major function of the Holy Spirit. They question then becomes, why haven’t they received the Spirit? Many “mainline” churches have so de-emphasized the Holy Spirit that there is deep-seated ignorance on the subject, but the Pentecostal churches that arose in reaction to that often seem to emphasize spiritual gifts to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit Himself. Both the assurance of salvation and the desire to evangelize become non-issues when the Holy Spirit is in control, and yet both of those are real problems for most churches. I think what is happening is that we address the symptoms rather than the cause. Practically every problem in Christian living is dealt with if we are filled and flowing with the Holy Spirit. Again, this isn’t the same as spiritual gifts. There are plenty of tongues-speakers who are caught in besetting sins! We need to be careful neither to grieve (Ephesians 4:30) nor quench (1 Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit. Rather, we need to be in step with Him (Galatians 5:25) in every area of our lives. If we will do that, the tricks of the devil will become ineffective and we will enjoy the abundant blessings God has prepared for us in Christ.
This is a major issue for me as a pastor. I have no question of my own position as a child of God, but I desire that in fullness for each of the members. As I’ve just written, I am so distracted by symptoms that I fail to address the root issue of being filled with and walking in step with the Holy Spirit. This makes it clear how I need to change my focus! The problem is, how indeed? I cannot force anyone to open their heart to the fullness of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit Himself can be very persuasive. I need to pray first, then teach, then give opportunity for response, so that everyone in this church may rise above the mess and soar on wings as eagles indeed, (Isaiah 40:31) to be and do all that God intends, for His kingdom and His glory.
Father, thank You for this call to attention. Thank You that we’re expecting good attendance this next Sunday. Keep me from trying to make things happen in my own strength, but still be fully available and responsive to You, for You to do through me what You desire for this church, this city, and this nation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!