~ Jeremy Bouma
Pastor and author Sam Storms has been laboring and praying for what many have said is an elusive dream. What is he searching for?
a local church in the twenty-first century that is committed to the centrality and functional authority of the Bible and to the effective, Christ-exalting operation of all spiritual gifts. (13)
While such a church may seem elusive, Storm believes it’s possible. In his new book Practicing the Power, Storms offers practical steps to understanding and exercising spiritual gifts in a way that they remain grounded in God’s Word. He shows us that, yes, you can be committed to both the authority of God’s Word and the availability of the Spirit’s gifts.
And yet, some say otherwise.
The Holy Spirit is often focused on for his supernatural work as seen in revivals, healings and more. Here we want to focus on his ordinary work which of course is no less supernatural, and hence our heading.
The Spirit’s work
The Spirit’s work is wide and far ranging because God works in his world are usually by his Spirit. We will focus on the Spirit’s work in salvation and Christian growth. Here again many activities attributed to the Father are accomplished by the Spirit.
Hence when we read that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to respond to Paul’s message (Acts 16:14), we should understand he did so by his Spirit. When we read that the Lord’s hand was with those speaking the gospel such that many turned to the Lord (Acts 11:21), we should understand the Spirit was at work.
The Spirit then is the source of new spiritual life in us (John 3:5-8). We are brought to see the truth of the gospel and to trust in Christ by the Spirit (John 16:8-11). Hence Paul says that if we are ‘in Christ’ through faith then we must have the Spirit (Rom. 8:9).
The Spirit then also empowers our spiritual life. This includes leading us into holiness such that we produce his fruit (Gal. 5:16-26); enabling relationship with the Father (Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:1-6); strengthening gospel proclamation (Acts 4:31); bringing unity between believers (Eph. 4:3; Phil. 1:27); and gifting for service in the life of the church (1 Cor. 12:4-11).
Progress in the Christian life is then only possible by the Spirit. While we are to believe, obey, fight sin, serve and more, all this depends on the prior work and ongoing work of the Spirit in us. That will have profound implications for ministry as we will see below.
Part of a big, on-going argument.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the spirit, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8.5–9
Heavenly father, I am particular grateful today for the person at work of the Holy Spirit. Though I don’t understand stand everything he is up to, these things I gladly affirmed today…
Just as assuredly as Jesus stood up outside of Lazarus’s Truman said, “Come forth”, you sent the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to my heart, and I came out of the tomb of my sin and death. How I praise you for your sovereign goodness and power. Unless you had breathe new life into my spirit, I would have never, could have never believe the gospel.
When you raise me up in Jesus, you baptize me with the Holy Spirit, making me a member of your family in Christ’s bride. You sealed me for eternity by the Spirit, marking me as your own possession. You sent the Spirit to live as a permanent resident in my heart—to constantly preach the gospel to my heart, convict me up soon, make me like Jesus, and tell me that I am your beloved child.
According to the truth of the Gospel in your Word, I am all ready controlled by the Holy Spirit. I am no longer controlled by my sinful nature. You have given me all the gifts of the Spirit I need to live as a functioning part of the church and a caring service in your kingdom. You gave the Spirit to me as the first fruits and guaranteed other full inheritance salvation that Jesus completely earned for me. What a generous and loving God you are!
Therefore, I acknowledge my desire to be more fully and consistently filled with the Holy Spirit, to walk according to the Spirit, to keep in step with the Spirit, to set my mind on what the Spirit desires. All of two which I say, “Hallelujah, what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a salvation!” I pray in Jesus name. Amen
~ Scotty Smith