Monday, November 26, 2007

The Holy Spirit as Divine Power!!

Following on from a few posts recently - notably my video post of Ern's testimony of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and also Pete Day's latest post; "Gathering the Church God's Way" - I was very interested to come to the following point in Gordon Fee's magisterial "God's Empowering Presence" that I am re-reading for the umpteemth time. What was that point? Namely concerning one of the Holy Spirit's attributes. We are very familiar with discussion of the attributes of God the Father and Son thanks to A W Pink and Stephen Charnock - but I wonder how familiar we are with thinking about the attributes of the Holy Spirit?

Gordon Fee writes (pp906-907);

"The single most notable characteristic of the Spirit of God is His power.

The Spirit is seen as responsible for creation as well as the eschatological renewal of the earth (Isaiah 32:15). The Spirit of God endows mere humans with extraordinary powers, sometimes with physical strength (Judges 14:6), sometimes with skill for working (Exodus 31:4-5, 35:31), sometimes with insight and wisdom (Daniel 5:14) and sometimes for ecstasy (1 Samuel 10:10; 'And the Spirit of God came upon him in power and he joined in their prophesying' - cf. Numbers 11:25, 29, 1 Samuel 19:20, 23-24).

Likewise the Spirit causes the cherubim to move (Ezekiel 1:12, 20), sets Ezekiel on his feet (2:2), lifts him up (3:12, 8:3) or snatches him away (3:14, 1 Kings 18:12, 2 Kings 2:16).

The Spirit of God therefore meant the effective working power of God.

It is probably fair to say that even though the two words (spirit and power) are not coterminous, the presence of the one (spirit) always implies the presence of the other (power)".

Much of the contemporary attempt to marginalise the Holy Spirit involves a lot of teaching and emphasis on the more "quieter" and "non-miraculous" aspects of the Spirit's work. Many former charismatics who are now slightly ashamed of what they call "charismaniacs" also join in the campaign to downplay the power aspects to the Spirit's work and you will hear them speak of the "quieter works of the Spirit". Indeed even Rob Rufus reminded us at Hong Kong that the Spirit of God "hides His power in His Presence" - and of course he is right! But I am intrigued by Gordon Fee's reminder - something that I freely confess I have not thought of completely and totally.

"The single most notable characteristic of the Spirit of God is His power".

Do you need a new ear drum? Or a new eye? Or a new limb? Or a new baby? Or a new lease of life? Or anything else that requires creation? Gordon Fee says;

"The Spirit is seen as responsible for creation".

Are you a lonely senior pastor working endless hours trying to prepare sermons that just won't come together? Facing demands of endless home visits that never seem to end? Dealing with moaning, criticising back-benchers in your church who never seem to be happy?

"The Spirit of God endows mere humans with extraordinary powers, sometimes with physical strength".

Are you in a particular career that requires unusual demands such as a nurse or a doctor or a teacher ... or a mother? Have you just planted into an area of your nation that doesn't seem to be ever capable of producing fruit or seeing conversions?

"The Spirit of God endows ... sometimes with skill for working".

I ask again ... are you a pastor or an apostle or a prophet or evangelist and you feel you are operating out of the sphere of your anointing? Maybe you even feel like a fraud? Did God really call you at all or was it just your imagination? Maybe you see yourself as a "lay-person" and you wonder whether it was all real and whether God did really do what you thought He did? Maybe your dreams and visions never seem like they are going to bear fruit and come to pass? Or maybe you wonder about your church. You called yourself a "charismatic church" but when was the last time you truly heard a prophecy that made you exclaim "God is TRULY among us"?!

"The Holy Spirit endows ... sometimes with skill for working (Exodus 31:4-5, 35:31), sometimes with insight and wisdom (Daniel 5:14) and sometimes for ecstasy".

Yet the wonderous power workings of the Holy Spirit don't even end there! There was so much talk about angels in Hong Kong and yet here Gordon Fee writes;

"Likewise the Spirit causes the cherubim to move (Ezekiel 1:12, 20)".

Let me emphasise again that I do believe Rob Rufus is absolutely right - He "hides His power in His Presence". Our quest is His Presence and His unveiled lovely face. But we cannot deny that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us as people - we WILL receive power "when the Holy Spirit comes upon you". And that power will cause the miraculous to happen in whatever ways that He so desires and so chooses.

Do you need power at the start of another week? Then seek Him. Seek the Holy Spirit - the Promised Paraclete who has been given so freely and so lavishly by the Risen Jesus Christ! For you can guarantee that if He comes upon you today to bless you and to make His Presence known to you then power - supernatural power - will accompany Him.

Gordon Fee said;

"It is probably fair to say that even though the two words (spirit and power) are not coterminous, the presence of the one (spirit) always implies the presence of the other (power)".

2 comments:

Peter Day said...

This is wonderful! Such awesome power for every situation!

And I believe that Rob Rufus and Gordon Fee are saying the same thing in just a different way. Rob Rufus warns us about seeking God's power for it's own sake, and the various legalistic ways people seek God's power and the dangers of having the power without the intimate presence of God.

That is why he says about God hiding his power in His presence.

But Gordon Fee reminds us of what is available to us in the glorious presence of God. Not simply the peace and joy and delight of being with Him (that's awesome in itself!), but even more - the mighty dunamis of God!

James B said...

Yes and the more I reflect on it, the more I begin to see the danger. You see because I think my experience of God's power is so limited compared to other men in church history, my initial response to a statement like "God hides His power in His Presence" is like ... what?!?!

But the more I start to consider this awesome power nature to the Holy Spirit, the more I see how men and women like William Branham and Kathryn Kuhlman found it so hard to keep a clear head! The power the Spirit brings must be heady!

Yet that is why the foundation of grace is so utterly vital - because the more we live in the awesome freedom of grace, the more we will not only see how free we are but how the power of the anointing has NOTHING to do with us! But is ALL of Him!!