When I was 17 years old I gave my life to God while attending a pentecostal church. The church was in the denomination of the Church of God, and about 8 months later I started my freshman year of college at a Southern Baptist school. Little did I know that these worlds would collide in such a crazy way.
I can remember countless arguments on predestination, once saved always saved, and the Holy Spirit. These Baptist guys were smart! They would even draw me diagrams at times to show me how what they believed made more sense than what I believed. Out of all of the debates though, nothing ever got as heated and intense as the discussion of the Holy Spirit.
Once in an intro to ministry class, my professor, who was a Southern Baptist pastor, had us write a paper on the Holy Spirit. I had finally received my opportunity to teach this guy what the Holy Spirit was truly capable of! So I did what any good pentecostal boy would do, and began to explain in 500-750 words why speaking in tongues was real. When I finished, I didn’t cover a lot of topics in regards to the Holy Spirit, but I was sure my professor was going to believe in speaking in tongues. I EVEN USED SCRIPTURES TO BACK UP MY POINT!
When I got the paper back, I realized he didn’t give me an A, and I was pretty upset with that. I probably thought I was being persecuted. On the top of the paper, my professor made one small note. He said, “Your view of the Holy Spirit is so limited”.
He said what?! How could he say my view was limited? He didn’t even speak in tongues, and he said my view was limited?
A few hours after my ranting, I finally talked to a friend, and he told me his view of the Holy Spirit. The Comforter. The one who guides. The one who gives wisdom and knowledge… He talked for hours about the Holy Spirit.
It was at this point, I knew my professor was right. My view of the Holy Spirit was so limited because all I cared about was seeing the one gift that he was able to give. I saw the gift of the Holy Spirit and missed the “who” that is the Holy Spirit.
So let me share 3 quick thoughts on the Holy Spirit that may dispel some of the misunderstandings.
- The gifts of the Spirit are manifested for the common good. According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul clearly states that when the Holy Spirit manifests it is for the common good. That means when the spirit manifests, it should be attractive to non-believers and edifying to believers. Later in 1 Corinthians 14:23, Paul is giving further instruction, and says the Holy Spirit should never manifest in such a way that makes people think you are crazy. He said what?! In a church gathering the Holy Spirit manifests for the common good of all, not for the enjoyment of one. Maybe it is not the Holy Spirit who is scary, but the people?
- The Holy Spirit is not chaotic, but instead has order. Lets stay in 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul gives specific instruction on how the Holy Spirit should manifest in a service. He says, if someone should speak in tongues in a gathering, it should happen no more than 3 times, and always be followed by an interpretation. If someone said this today, I could hear the screams of how the church is stifling and oppressing the Holy Spirit, but Paul was so specific. Why? The gathering had a purpose, and that purpose had nothing to do with freaking people out and thinking we are out of our minds. I am sure there are many people who would just assume to avoid these verses simply because it didn’t match the style of church they were raised in, or it was different than what they were taught… including me. Lets believe the whole Bible, not just the parts that make us feel comfortable.
- Don’t limit the Holy Spirit by your viewpoint. The gifts of the Spirit are as follows according to 1 Corinthians 12: Wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. When your pastor has studied and prayed over the message they deliver, and that message is delivered with great wisdom and knowledge, that is a manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Prophecy is a gift edifying to all who hear. A gift of the spirit is discernment. He is able to guide us and direct us daily. Jesus specified him as a comforter. When we limit or only focus on one part, we always miss the big picture. The big picture is that the Holy Spirit is so much more than just gifts.
To wrap this up I would like to say 2 things. First, if you have ever been turned off of the Holy Spirit because of someones actions, please give the Holy Spirit another chance. Read and study Him. He is here for us. You may be surprised what you discover in your journey. Secondly, if you feel you understand the Holy Spirit completely, please also hold unto Biblical accountability. Understand timing and purpose. The Holy Spirit was never meant to scare, but instead to comfort.