Here are my notes for the second session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my small group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author.
1. Think about a time in your life when you were afraid (real or imagined).
- How did you feel?
- How did you respond?
2. Why do you think it is easy to become defensive and fearful of change when it comes to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit?
3. With which camp do you most identify? What fears and stereotypes do you have with the other camp?
4. Do these fears prevent you from changing your views and practices, even if Scripture teaches those views are misguided?
5. If you have ever been afraid that God won’t act when you ask him to, what would that say about your view of God?
6. Imagine the Spirit taking control of your life and showed you exactly what he wanted you to do. Is this thought actually scary?
Read Luke 18:18-30
7. Why do you think the ruler was surprised of what Jesus asked him to do?
8. What did Jesus mean when he said, “Follow me?” Do you think the ruler understood Jesus? It is always easier to go “all-in” when you don’t have much.
9. Put yourself into this situation. What might the Holy Spirit ask you to do?
10. Would you be willing to follow, no matter what the cost, or what that might mean? The Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do.”
Read Ephesians 4:30 – Write down areas in your life that may grieve the Holy Spirit. Pray, and Repent!
Quotes from The Forgotten God book:
- I would be dishonest if I did not admit there are still times when I worry about how others view me.
- Whole denominations have been built around specific beliefs about the Holy Spirit. I know people who have lost jobs at churches and Christian colleges because of their beliefs about the Holy Spirit.
- A life of following Christ requires relinquishing those fears when they do come. It means refusing to let your fears of what others think, your fears of rejection, keep you from pursuing the truth about the Holy Spirit and whatever else God is teaching you and calling you to. Are you willing to pursue truth in your journey to know and be known by the Holy Spirit? Do you have enough humility to be open to the possibility that you have been wrong in your understanding of the Spirit?
- Fear of stepping outside of a certain theological framework causes us to be biased in our interpretations. We work diligently to “prove” that our presuppositions were correct (another example of eisegesis) rather than simply and honestly pursuing truth.
- I think the fear of God failing us leads us to “cover for God.” This means we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more. We even convince ourselves that we don’t want more—that we have all the “God” we need or could want. I can’t imagine how much it pains God to see His children hold back from relationship with the Holy Spirit out of fear that He won’t come through.
- All this leads to a question we cannot escape: Does God really give the Holy Spirit to those who ask, or was Jesus lying when He said that? I have found that it comes down to faith: Do you believe God keeps His promises or not? Do your prayers and actions give evidence of your belief?
- Now you fear asking again because it would weaken your faith if God “fails to act” again. I’ve heard many people question God for not responding when they prayed in faith. I don’t doubt that these people prayed in faith, but the question is whether they prayed for things God has promised. Often, it’s the un-promised requests that God answers with a no. There is a huge difference between believing what God has promised and praying for things you’d like to be true. I encourage you to pray confidently for what God has promised.
- The flip side of fearing that God won’t show up is fearing that He will. What if God does show up but then asks you to go somewhere or do something that’s uncomfortable? For many people, fearing that God will ask them to go in a difficult, undesirable direction outweighs the fear that God will ignore them.
- When it comes down to it, many of us do not really want to be led by the Holy Spirit. Or, more fundamentally, many of us don’t want to be led by anyone other than ourselves. The whole idea of giving up control (or the delusion of it) is terrifying, isn’t it? Do you thrive on controlling the big and small in your life?
- The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will lead you to the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be. The Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be. This often incredibly painful process strips you of selfishness, pride, and fear.
- Sometimes the sin we take on becomes such a part of us that it requires this same kind of ripping and tearing to free us. The Holy Spirit does not seek to hurt us, but He does seek to make us Christlike, and this can be painful. So, if you say you want the Holy Spirit, you must first honestly ask yourself if you want to do His will. Because if you do not genuinely want to know and do His will, why should you ask for His presence at all?
- We want to believe that we are people who desire TRUTH even over relationship and acceptance. But the chances are that you care about people’s opinions more than you’re willing to admit.
- Take some time to consider what fears you have about the Holy Spirit. It may take a while to pinpoint exactly what your attitudes and responses toward the Holy Spirit have been. Don’t hide your fears. Admit them, first to yourself, and then to God (who knows all of them already yet desires to have us share our fears with Him). As you come to Him, be honest about how you fear disappointing people more than quenching His Spirit, or how you don’t really trust Him to come through on His promises, or whatever else you may be feeling toward Him.