The Holy Spirit — Can’t We All Just Get Along?
The need to address revival and the vital role of the Holy Spirit is as relevant today as it has been throughout church history. As America falls deeper into depravity and further from God, the need to be awakened from our spiritual slumber has never been greater. Our only hope is a mighty move of God’s Spirit … a revival of the spiritual condition of His people. But why is there so much division on this topic? Before continuing, take a few minutes and watch this short clip that I just released, My Thoughts on Bethel, Bill Johnson, John MacArthur, and Todd Friel:
So with that said, I’m often reminded of the words of George D. Watson,
The true saints of God, who have clear heads, and pure, warm hearts, have in all generations had to walk between the two extremes of cold formality on the one side, and wild, ranting fanaticism on the other. Dead formality and the false fire of fanaticism are both Satan’s counterfeits, and he does not care into which extreme the soul plunges.
Watson masterfully describes how God’s Spirit can be suppressed or misrepresented. To clarify, the Holy Spirit is not some weird, mystical force. He is part of the triune nature of God. The Bible says that the Spirit intercedes, leads, guides, teaches, and so on (cf. Romans 8:26; Acts 8:29; John 16:13). He enables and empowers us to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and to boldly live for Christ. God’s Word becomes living and active in the life of the believer who is continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Charles Spurgeon adds, “What can a hammer do without the hand that grasps it, and what can we do without the Spirit of God?”
By age 28, my life was filled with what the world offered, but I was empty inside. I was at a turning point. I could choose to turn to God or continue to reject Him. By God’s grace, I repented and put my complete trust in Christ. Although far from perfect, God radically transformed and redirected my life through the power of the Holy Spirit. He can do the same for you. Acts 1:8 identifies this experience: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me.” The power of the Holy Spirit is like dynamite that ignites a hunger for God so intense that every aspect of life is changed — we become bold, not passive; stable, not fanatical; and committed, not wavering.
Within the months that followed this experience, my passion and purpose for life became clearer than ever. I then understood Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing [revival] may come from the presence of the Lord.” I truly experienced this infilling of the Spirit that is seen throughout the Scriptures (e.g., a transformed life resulting in a love for God and His Word). From this experience came books, articles, speaking engagements and, ultimately, a church.
If We Are to Continue in the Power of the Holy Spirit …
I, like many Christians, tend to be “safely” conservative when considering the power of the Holy Spirit. However, Scripture clearly supports the miraculous work of the Spirit today. I’m open but cautious. We need sound doctrine and the power of the Holy Spirit. As I’ve said before, it is possible to be “Bible taught,” but not “Spirit led” — straight as a gun barrel theologically, but just as empty. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6). Don’t get me wrong, theological and expositional teachings are essential to Christian living, but how often are we encouraged to fast and pray as well as study? How often are we taught brokenness and repentance in addition to translating the Greek language? How often are we taught the surrendered life? We can sometimes be more concerned about a Master’s Degree than a degree from the Master.
The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures and empowered Jesus and the Apostles. We are desperately remiss if we fail to recognize His vital role in our lives. I agree with Leonard Ravenhill, “We need to close every church in the land for one Sunday and cease listening to a man so we can hear the groan of the Spirit which we in our lush pews have forgotten.” Granted, we have gifted leaders who are led by the Spirit, but we, individually, need to spend serious time searching and listening to God.
Sadly, we often pray on the run and scurry through a 5 minute devotional, yet we devote hours to television, movies, and the Internet, and we wonder why we know little of the power of the Spirit. We must spend much time seeking God if we are to continue in the power of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, the only thing holding many churches together today is social activity, not the activity of the Spirit. Our only hope is a mighty move of God’s Spirit … a revival among His people.
The Cost of Revival
You might have heard me say this before but it bears repeating. A few years ago I prayed, “Lord, bring revival to the churches” — I was not ready for the response that followed. I felt impressed with these words:
You don’t want revival — it will ruin your schedule, your dignity, your image, and your reputation as a person who is ‘well balanced.’ Men will weep throughout the congregation. Women will wail because of the travail of their own souls. Young adults will cry like children at the magnitude of their sin. With the strength of My presence, the worship team will cease playing. Time will seem to stand still. You won’t be able to preach because of the emotions flooding your own soul. You’ll struggle to find words, but only find tears. Even the most dignified and reserved among you will be broken and humbled as little children. The proud and self righteous will not be able to stand in My presence. The doubter and unbeliever will either run for fear or fall on their knees and worship Me — there can be no middle ground. The church will never be the same again.
Do you really want revival? Listen to this sermon on The Genuine Cost of Revival.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at ShaneIdleman.com.