What does it mean to believe in the Holy Spirit?

The role of the Spirit has long puzzled the evangelical mind. For some, being “led by the Spirit means being led by some inner impulse rather than by the Spirit’s testimony to the written Word of God.” After all, who is going to argue when someone says, “The Spirit spoke to me?” This generally becomes a cheap way of substituting the careful study of the Word for a quick last minute decision baptized in spirit language. To be Spirit-led is not some impulse, nor should we dare assume our feelings are automatically Spirit-inspired. I have seen this mindset create all sorts of schizophrenic reactions in people’s lives.

On the other hand, some substitute intimacy with the Spirit for a skeptical approach to the Third Person of the Godhead: “Yes, we have the Spirit, but we don’t want to allow room for our passions and emotions. Our emotions and passions are irreparably damaged by sin. We affirm the Spirit’s work but cautiously, so we are not confused with the Charismatics.”

We need a theology that is Spirit-led: not frightened by the Spirit’s manifestation in the lives of broken people, not agnostic about radical transformation in the lives of sinners, praying that the Spirit will crush our pride and self-reliance, rejoicing passionately in the Spirit’s indwelling presence, praying in the Triune Name a lot more so we acknowledge his intercession (Rom. 8:26), speaking words of benediction often (“May God’s Spirit be with you”), filling our lives with spiritual songs in the Psalter, asking God each Sunday for a Spirit-filled worship, and desiring the Holy Spirit to interrupt our lives continually to express gratitude (I Thes. 5:18) and trusting in the Spirit-inspired Word of God to guide our lives. We are a people of the Spirit.

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