Here are my notes for the fourth 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.
The first step in reversing the neglect of the Holy Spirit is to desire to see him at work in us. So ask, “Why do you want him?” We can’t assume our hearts are right in our motivation. Why does it matter?
1. What are a few possible motivations for desiring the Holy Spirit?
2. Can you detect any of these in your heart?
Read Acts 8:9-24
3. It appears that Simon was intrigued by the power of the Holy Spirit. Why did he want the Spirit?
4. What would Simon’s motivation look like if it were transferred into the American church today?
5. Have you seen examples of this?
Peter calls Simon’s motivation into question. Seeing the Spirit working is one thing, but your heart must be in the right place. What is the purpose of the Spirit working in a believer’s life?
- The Spirit works to glorify God (John 16:14)
- We work to glorify God (Matthew 5:16)
6. When was the last time you saw someone do something amazing, yet received all the glory for himself?
7. When was the last time you saw someone do something amazing, yet all the glory went to God?
- Jesus was very clear that their mission could not be accomplished on their own, they needed the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2)
- We fixate on flashy manifestations of the Spirit, but when a proud person exhibits humility, is this any less supernatural?
8. What are some less glamorous ways the Holy Spirit’s power can be manifested in a person’s life.
9. Why are these expressions just as powerful?
10. Another trap we can fall into: we could be trying to lead the Spirit. We start with our dreams & desires then ask the Holy Spirit to accomplish our plans.
11. Practically, what does it look like to be led by the Spirit rather than trying to lead the Spirit for your purposes?
12. What is the right reason for desiring the Spirit?
- 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, it is for the common good.
- 1 Corinthians 12:31, there is a more excellent way: love people placed in our lives.
If we are open to the Spirit’s working in our lives, we must first let go of things that keep us from close fellowship with him.
Having the Spirit is not about being everything you want to be, but about God working through you to help people around you grow.
If the proper motivation for desiring the Spirit is love, ask yourself how much you love the people around you. Francis Chan challenged us in the room to speak the truth in love, and recognized how difficult this is for people to do this…
- Are you willing and humble to do this for someone else?
- Are you willing and humble enough to receive this from others?
Quotes from The Forgotten God book:
- Recently, a man dying of cancer asked the church elders to anoint him with oil and pray for his healing. Before we prayed, however, I asked the man a question I don’t normally ask: “Why do you want to be healed? Why do you want to stay on this earth?” The man, as well as everyone else around, seemed a bit surprised that I would ask such a blunt question. The reason I probed like this is because in the epistle of James, we are reminded that we often don’t receive the answers to our prayers because we ask for the wrong reasons: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). Our desire to live should be for the sake and glory of the God who put us on this earth in the first place.
- Right now I want you to take a break from reading and spend some time asking yourself why you want the Holy Spirit. Is it for power? Is it for your own betterment and purposes? Or is it because you want to experience all that God has for you? Is it because you love the church and desire to be a better servant to your sisters and brothers?
- First Corinthians 12 tells us that each follower of Christ is given a “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). As we’ve seen, these manifestations, or gifts, are “empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). So these reflections of the Spirit’s presence and activity in us have nothing to do with our natural abilities, and we have not received them because we have earned or somehow deserve them. Since these gifts come according to God’s will and not ours, it should be clear that they should not be used for our own boasting or entertainment.
- The Holy Spirit has given you a supernatural ability to serve the people God has placed around you. If God cares enough about His church to give you this Spirit-empowered ability, shouldn’t you care enough about the church to use that gift for the same purpose?
- The Holy Spirit works to glorify Christ (John 16:14), yet so many who emphasize the Holy Spirit seem to draw attention to themselves. The Corinthian church was notorious for this.
- I have yet to meet someone who wouldn’t want to see a miracle. My concern is that I’ve met many people whose pursuit of miracles is greater than their pursuit of God. A lot of people want to talk about supernatural things like miracles, healing, or prophecy. But focusing inordinately on these things quickly becomes misguided. God calls us to pursue Him, not what He might do for us or even in our midst.
- It used to be that if I had a great worship experience, I asked God to duplicate it the next time I came to worship. Like the kid impressed by a silly magic trick, I would pray, “Do it again!” One thing I’ve learned about God over the years, however, is that He rarely “does it again.” He’s the Creator, which means that He is (among other things) creative.
- The Spirit is not a passive power that we can wield as we choose. The Spirit is God, a Being who requires that we submit ourselves to be led by Him. Do you really want to be led? Even people who are natural leaders don’t get to lead the Spirit. Everyone is called to be led by Him.
- What if He asks you to give up something you’re not ready to give up? What if He leads you where you don’t want to go? What if he tells you to change jobs? To move? Are you willing to surrender to Him, no matter where He wants to take you? Am I?
- The fact is that God is calling. The Spirit is beckoning. The real question is will you follow? Will you listen? I know I prefer a multiple-choice option for what God is asking me to do. That way, if I don’t like A or B, there are always options C and D. Sometimes, of course, this is exactly how the Spirit leads us. There can be two equally good choices that God lets us choose between.
- My purpose in these questions is to get you to take 1 Corinthians 12 seriously, to believe that you have been given a manifestation of the Spirit and that your church, the worldwide body of Christ, and the world are crippled without your involvement. I write this because I love the church and want you to trust that you are more than just a helpful addition. You need to believe you are a vital member.
- If you are still alive on this planet, it’s because He has something for you to do. He placed us on this earth for purposes that He orchestrated long before we were born (Ephesians 2:8–10).
- When we submit to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, He helps us become more holy—more like Jesus. It is a lifelong journey of putting our flesh to death, or as Paul puts it in Galatians 5, of walking by the Spirit and not gratifying the desires of the flesh.
- The phrase crucifying the flesh is not exactly a friendly, appealing group of words. I think this is because God wants us to be clear on what we are getting into. He wants us to know that His gift of the Holy Spirit is really not for our own pleasure or purposes. The Spirit is meant to lead us toward holiness. The Spirit is here with us to accomplish God’s purposes, not ours.