The Holy Spirit has been a topic which has caused a lot of debate in church circles. Depending on your church background you may have seen the Holy Spirit talked about in very opposing ways.
We live in a culture and a time where we have less difficulty accepting God as the Father or Jesus as the Son of God, however when it comes to the Holy Spirit, we often find it hard to wrap our heads around who He is and whether He is alive today.
We don’t have time to explore this fully but in a nutshell as the Vineyard movement we believe this about the Holy Spirit;
He is God - He is not third in the pecking order but He is equally God
He is in us - He lives in us when we accept Him, He doesn’t come and go
He is for us - He is our helper, teacher and guide
He works through us - in His power we can exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit
As a pastor, one of the questions I often get asked when it comes to the Holy Spirit is whether or not we received Him when we gave our ‘yes’ to Jesus or if there is a separate experience that we need to have?
The bible tells us that the answer is…….YES.
We read verses like this throughout the New Testament: "Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed." 1 Corinthians 1:7
This demonstrates we don’t lack anything; we have every spiritual blessing - but then we also read statements like this;
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name." Ephesians 3:14-16
“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong” Romans 1:11
So, which is it?
When we read these three verses together, we recognise that God has given us all of Him, and all is available. He is not limited in any way.
However our ability to experience all of what He has made available is limited. The book of Ephesians helps our understanding with this; we read that we should be "being filled with the spirit” but a truer definition of the word ‘filled’ means to be filled and filled again. So, we are being filled but are also filling - it’s not just a one-time job!
The problem isn't with God's provision but with our reception.
He has given all of himself to us, however we are unable to give all of ourselves to Him. This is why we need to be continually filled. There is a limitless amount of God, but our limitations mean that there will always be more for us to experience. We received the Holy Spirit when we gave our lives to follow Jesus, but we continue to receive the Holy Spirit from that point on because we always need more.
So, what are some simple things that will enable us to experience more of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
1 - Have an expectation that there is more
This sounds really simple and obvious but it’s a huge part of why we don’t see more of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we have no or low expectations of what we can see, then we won’t live a way that expects more and we are unlikely to see more.
I once heard a lecturer say this - “what wasn’t talked about wasn’t expected. What wasn’t expected wasn’t experienced. What wasn’t experienced, therefore, couldn’t be expected.”
On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell in a room where they had gathered expectant for Him. Jesus had told them to wait for the gift that had been promised and so they did. (Acts 1:14). Our experience of God will never rise higher than our expectation of God.
2 - Live life in a way that leaves room for more
Let’s face it, most of us go through our day to day on autopilot. We don’t tend to do that many things that require us to have to think too hard. It’s why when people ask us, “What happened today?” we often answer "Umm, I actually have no idea!” We tend to most naturally live in a way that doesn’t really require the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, this leads to us not being well enough equipped when we do happen to stumble into moments where we need His power and His strength. All of us have been in situations where we know God wants to interrupt someone's story with a radically different outcome yet we have panicked and not trusted that the Holy Spirit will come through for us, or worse still we don’t know how to still our minds to hear His voice.
What if we begin to live in a way that requires room to be made for our partnership with the Holy Spirit as a regular occurrence rather than sporadic moments in our everyday?
How different would our schools, societies, workplaces and families look?
3 - We need to live a life that looks more like Jesus.
We are not a perfect people and we never will be. We all experience sin in our lives, which is a biblical word which I think is most helpfully translated as “missing the mark.” Sin is what occurs when we deviate from the way that God had perfectly designed us to live. Although Jesus dealt with the penalty of sin when He died on the cross, we still experience the presence and the power of sin in our lives.
That’s why when we do wrong, we feel it. We can’t change this reality, but we do have control over how often we choose to partner with sin.
If we are choosing to partner with sin rather than filling our lives with expectations and opening our lives more to the Holy Spirit, we are unlikely to experience more of the Holy Spirit. Now, it’s worth saying here that while sin can affect our ability to partner with God through the Holy Spirit it doesn’t affect how much God loves us. He loves us regardless of sin, and the level of how much we are moving in partnership with the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with how much he loves us.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our story, our stuff and our personality. The Holy Spirit will walk with us through this journey; He is kind and He is loving, and He wants to partner with us.
I want us to live with an increased expectation of what He can do in our lives. I want us to live lives that leave room for more and as we do that continue to choose to live lives that are increasingly moving towards Jesus.