The very subject of the Holy Spirit is part of what inspired me to become the third generation pastor that I am. Growing up I wanted to be a pastor like my dad, but then eventually found music and chased it around for awhile. In college, I eventually met the Holy Spirit and traded in my worship major for a pastoral ministry major with the desire to graduate and teach the church more about His supernatural ways—especially church members who grew up in churches that seemed to belittle Him to a warm fuzzy feeling that attested to your salvation. I now knew that the Spirit was so much more than that and I didn’t want anyone to go to the grave thinking warm fuzzy feelings was all the Holy Spirit had to offer them.
So as I began pastoring at 1208GREENWOOD Free Methodist Church, I immediately kicked off a class on spiritual gifts. From day one, I made it clear to everyone that attended the class, that my intent was not just to teach them about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts based on my own life experiences, but to dive them deeper into their Bibles and show them what it had to say on the subject.
Revivals often end up becoming all about chasing highs and understanding God through experience, so our Bibles can at times become secondary. Furthermore, Bible study often becomes neglected by supernatural Christians as we figure all we need to understand the Word is the Holy Spirit. But while the Holy Spirit is the best person you could ever read your Bible with, He will not typically teach you deep things your mind is not open to, nor download ancient cultural information into your head so you can understand perfectly what the Scriptures are communicating.
We must let the deep study of the Word and the deep knowledge of the Holy Spirit bring us into the fullness of what God wants to teach us. R.T. Kendall provokes us into this, saying, “I believe, were the day to come that the Word and the Spirit come together, the simultaneous combination will result in spontaneous combustion! And it will result in the greatest revival since Pentecost!” (Wilson, Darren, director. Holy Ghost. Wanderlust Productions, 2014.)
While that’s a good word to remind revivalists to remember the importance of Scripture, traditionalists equally need that word to encourage them to more adamantly pursue the Holy Spirit. There’s nothing sweeter than the Holy Spirit and once you’ve had a taste, you can’t help but want more. As one of my professors once confessed, “I would rather have the experience of the Holy Spirit than the right theology”—and he said that while holding four degrees—one of them being a masters in theology!
Some of us need our eyes opened even more so to the Holy Spirit, because a 2009 study by Barna Group found that,
most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force…. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure. (“Most American Christians Do Not Believe That Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist.” Barna Group, 13 Apr. 2009.)
And that’s why I love to teach people so much about the Holy Spirit. I want to show you what the Bible is telling us. I don’t want to approach you with an extremist supernatural theology—I want to let the balance of life speak into it. I want you to catch Jesus in a new light and understand that you can live more like Him than you think you can. I don’t want you to know you can prophesy—I want you to know why you should. I want those of you who have known nothing more than warm fuzzies to look at the Bible and say, “Wow, how did I miss this?” I want you to open yourself up to the realm of possibilities of what God can truly do and how He wants to use you.