Why Do You Want the Spirit?

Here are my notes for the fourth session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my Poster-TheForgottenGodsmall 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.

A Summary of the Week

There has been a lot of teaching in the Experiencing God workbook this week, so for today, I’m just going to review the summary statements:

God Speaks in Different Ways (Hebrews 1:1-3):

  1. If I don’t know when God is speaking, I am in trouble at the heart of my Christianity.
  2. God speaks to his people, he desires to reveal himself, his purposes and his ways.
  3. THAT he spoke to his people is more important than HOW he spoke.
  4. When God spoke in the Bible, it was unique to that individual.
  5. When God spoke in the Bible, the person was sure it was God speaking.
  6. When God spoke in the Bible, the person knew what God had said.
  7. When God spoke in the Bible, THAT was the encounter with God (it did not lead to an encounter with God).
  8. If I don’t have clear instructions from God in a matter, I will pray and wait. I will not bypass the relationship with God by moving out in my own strength.

God Speaks Through the Holy Spirit:

  1. An encounter with the Holy Spirit is an encounter with God.
  2. I understand spiritual truth because the Holy Spirit is working in my life.
  3. When I read the Bible, the Word of God, the Author himself is present to instruct me.
  4. Truth is never discovered, it is always revealed.

God Reveals Spiritual Truth:

  1. God revelation is designed to bring me back into fellowship with him.
  2. God reveals himself to increase me faith.
  3. God reveals his purposes so I will do his work.
  4. God reveals his ways so I can accomplish his purposes.

 God Speaks Through the Bible:

  1. God speaks uniquely to individuals and can do it any way he chooses.
  2. When God speaks, his people hear and understand his voice.
  3. I cannot understand spiritual truth unless God reveals it to me.
  4. God is more interested in what I become than what I can do.
  5. The process of hearing God through the Bible (use Proverbs 22:7 as an example):
    1. The Spirit prompts me…
    2. So I read God’s Word.
    3. The Spirit reveals a truth.
    4. I adjust my life to that truth of God.
    5. I then obey God.
    6. God works through me to accomplish his purposes.
  6. Confession is agreeing with the truth that the Spirit has revealed to me.
  7. Here is a guide to responding to the truth God reveals:
    1. Write down the verse.
    2. Meditate over the verse.
    3. Study the verse, immersing yourself in what is written and revealed.
    4. Identify adjustments I need to make in my personal life, family, church or work.
    5. Write a prayer response to God.
    6. Watch to see how God may use this truth about himself and my life.
  8. Understanding spiritual truth does not lead me to an encounter with God, it IS the encounter with God.

God Speaks Through Prayer:

  1. When the God of the universe tells me something, I need to write that down.
  2. Truth is a person.
  3. Prayer is two-way communication with God.
  4. Prayer is a relationship, not a religious activity. Prayer develops that relationship, we spend time with people we love.
  5. Prayer is designed to adjust me to God, not to adjust God to me.
  6. Oswald Chambers said that prayer doesn’t change things. Prayer changes me and then I change things.
  7. I need to make sure that my only desire is the will of God, and not my own will.
  8. The process of God speaking through prayer:
    1. God initiates a desire to pray.
    2. The Spirit uses God’s Word to reveal truth.
    3. In the Spirit I pray in agreement with God’s will.
    4. I adjust my life to the truth revealed.
    5. I look and listen for confirmation from from the Bible, circumstance, and the church.
    6. I adjust my life and obey.
    7. God works in me and through me to accomplish his purposes.
    8. I then experience God just as the Spirit revealed during prayer.

God Does Not Go Against His Word:

Blackaby mentions it is never God’s will to go against his reveal truth. Could it ever be God’s will to deceive in order to support a higher value of life? We know lying is wrong (Exodus 20:16, Proverbs 14:25, Psalm 58:3, 62:4, Isaiah 59:4, John 8:44), so we cannot say it is ever God’s will that I tell a lie, yet we read…

  1. Biblical examples:
    1. 1 Kings 22:21-23 mentions a lying spirit from God.
    2. 2 Samuel 15:33-36 mentions a planned deception: 33 But David told him, “If you go with me, you will only be a burden. 34 Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, ‘I will now be your adviser, O king, just as I was your father’s adviser in the past.’ Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, will be there. Tell them about the plans being made in the king’s palace, 36 and they will send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what is going on.”
  2. Practical example:
    1. Suppose someone with a gun breaks into your house and asks if your wife and kids are in the house.
    2. You know that they are hidden in the back of the closet but you say “NO” in order to protect them.
    3. I know this is extreme, but does the situation warrant a choice of values whereby we sacrifice a lesser value (truth) to uphold a higher value (life)?

Worship in Spirit and Truth

Worship is the one main event in the life of a church. It happens every week, sometimes twice a week (for those with a Sunday evening service).

  1. It is the most attended event during the week.
  2. It is the largest gathering in the life of most any church.
  3. It is often the gateway event that brings people into the church, who hopefully will get connected to the Body of Christ that meets in this place.

When people outside the church think about “church,” they likely refer to the event that happens (generally) at 11:00 on any given Sunday morning.

But my question today is, “Do we really worship when we are gathered at King’s Grant Baptist Church at 8:30 or 11:00 on any given Sunday?” Perhaps we just show up out of habit, or to see our friends, or because parents make us attend. I used that word (attend) on purpose. How often do we simply attend (for whatever reason) and never really participate in worship.

By “participating,” I’m not talking about doing anything on the platform. I think is was Soren Kierkegaard who said that, during worship, the people are not the audience, and those on the stage are not the performers; but rather all those in attendance are the performers, those on the stage are the prompters, and the audience is God. We have an audience of ONE.

“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24).

“God is spirit” means he is not a physical being limited to one place. He is present everywhere and he can be worshiped anywhere, at any time. I don’t advocate skipping “church,” like, since we can worship God anywhere, we can do it at home or on the beach instead of gathering together as a congregation. There is something about the community of faith getting together that brings strength and focus. My point is, it is not where we worship that counts, but how we worship. Perhaps evaluate what happens at church during a worship experience.

  1. Is your worship genuine and true?
  2. Do you have the Holy Spirit’s help to worship?
  3. How does the Holy Spirit help us worship?
  4. How does the Holy Spirit help YOU to worship?

The Holy Spirit does a lot of things in the life of the believer, so it is so important to allow the Spirit to take up residence in our lives:

  1. The Holy Spirit prays for us (Romans 8:26)
  2. Reminds us of and teaches us the words of Christ (John 14:26)
  3. Will guide us in all truth (John 16:13)
  4. Gives us special abilities (1 Corinthians 14:1)
  5. Produces fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22)
  6. Tells us we are loved (Romans 5:5)

Let’s worship God in Spirit and in truth. We have an audience of ONE; let’s do everything we can to make our worship pleasing to HIM.

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Paul Had a Clear Conscience

Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: “Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!” (Acts 23:1). It is this chapter that we see that Paul could stand toe to toe with the religious heavyweights and hold his own. He had a clear conscience, unlike the Jews who were guilty of false testimony, beatings and plots to kill.

Ananias, the high priest, struck Paul in the mouth (Acts 23:2). I guess he was insulted that Paul referred to the council as brothers, or that the leaders could not stand with a clear conscience. Paul fires back, “God will strike you, you hypocrites” (Acts 23:3). How dare he speak to the High Priest that way (Acts 23:4). Don’t miss Paul’s response, “I did not know he was the High Priest” (Acts 23:5). Could it be sarcasm? He wasn’t acting like the High Priest. Paul knows that Jesus is the authentic High Priest (Hebrews 4:14, 6:20). I think Paul was insulting Ananias.

Paul goes on to summarize the reason he is before them that day, because he has a hope in the resurrection from the dead (Acts 23:6), which then proceeded to divide the audience. Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection while the Pharisees did (Acts 23:7). There was a terrible argument and the commander thought they would tear Paul apart (Acts 23:10). It’s funny that the Pharisees are now on Paul’s side (Acts 23:9). Let’s get back to having a clear conscience.

People without a spotless past may still enjoy a clear conscience: Paul had wronged many people but his conscience was clear because of the forgiveness Jesus offers.

Good deeds cannot provide a clear conscience: It’s hard to worship freely when we don’t have a clear conscience. Two things that will never clear a conscience are gifts and sacrifices (Hebrews 9:9).

The Holy Spirit works with the believer’s conscience: The Holy Spirit confirms our conscience (Romans 9:1). While we might want to ignore our sin, the one thing that does not ignore sin is our conscience. If ignored, conviction will grow.

The conscience is an indicator, not a transformer: The Spirit alone can change us. By itself the conscience can do nothing but condemn. Through the Spirit we are actually able to recognize and do the right thing. Asking God for forgiveness does not always make us feel better, because we feel a load of guilt. The key is to draw near to God.

Application: Although you don’t have a spotless past, aim for the future with confidence, and the mind of Christ can keep your past straight. The writer of Hebrews 10:22 tells us, “Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Allow God to use your past for His glory, that you are a changed person, a new creation with a new purpose in life. When we fail, confess our sin, forsake the old ways, and renew our fellowship with God (1 John 1:9).

Paul’s Thinking About Christ

Firstly, Paul was not a systematic theologian with a vast library in his office. Paul first and foremost argued from experience. It is true to say that Paul’s interest was not in theology, but in religion. He was concerned for a well balanced faith by which men might live.

Secondly, there was nothing static about Paul’s belief. He was faced with ever changing situations and human experiences. Basically, Paul’s theology was an adaptable theology. It was always deepening and developing to meet new situations which the life of the growing church brought to him.

The two exceptions to mentioning Jesus: 2 Thessalonians and Philemon

Jesus as the Son of God: a unique relationship

  1. And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, [that is] Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
  2. To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, (Galatians 1:16)
  3. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
  4. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (Galatians 4:4)
  5. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
  6. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us–by me and Silvanus and Timothy–was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. (2 Corinthians 1:19)
  7. Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; (2 Corinthians 1:3)
  8. Concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, (Romans 1:3)
  9. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the [preaching of the] gospel of His Son, is my witness [as to] how unceasingly I make mention of you, (Romans 1:9)
  10. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
  11. Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ, (Ephesians 1:3)
  12. We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, (Colossians 1:3)

Jesus is never equated with God: but Paul tries to define the relationship between God and Jesus Christ.

  1. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, (Colossians 2:9)
  2. If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)

In a sense, Jesus is subordinate to God: nothing distracted Paul from the supremacy of God alone.

  1. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
  2. And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28)
  3. Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. (1 Corinthians 3:22-23)

Pre-existence of Jesus Christ: a characteristic of John’s writing.

  1. And all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:4)
  2. [This was] in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Ephesians 3:11)
  3. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)

Paul’s summary:

  1. God was always like Jesus: not Old Testament law against New Testament grace.
  2. The doctrine of the Trinity: Father (life-giving work in creation), Son (saving work of redemption), Spirit (illuminating work of revelation). We must avoid this thought as a series in time.
  3. To speak of the pre-existence of the Son is to say that God did not begin to redeem men when Jesus came into the world, but that throughout all ages the redeeming power and the sacrificial work of God had been at work.

This material is from William Barclay, the Mind of St. Paul, 1975.