Hi,

 

A question that has come out of another thread, and got me thinking.............

Thank you.

 

Lorraine

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Jonathan and Greg,

Wow, I had forgotten all about this discussion which was posted many moons ago.

Love the analogy about the car and hope that you will ponder and work out why because the more I think about it, and I haven’t done lately, the more I tie myself in knots.  I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

Greg, great to hear from you, it's been a while and hope you are keeping well and all is good.

Strange you should mention a ‘force’ as it brought to mind recently when the Jehovah’s Witnesses called at my door – and in keeping within the guidelines of WTR, I am in no way knocking other denominations - but one lady told me that they could not go knocking on peoples doors without the Holy Spirit, but said ‘The Holy Spirit is a force’.

Yes, you are right, God did use His power to help others whilst on earth but emptied himself totally for our sake in that He suffered and died for our sins and His love for us all.

Are you saying Greg that without involving God in our worship that we could be looking for a 'Godly feeling'?  Sorry if I am misunderstanding and most definitely not a criticism, just really interested in what you are saying.

 

Though humans often like to divide our being into compartments - emotion, reason, physical function, etc., the division tends to be arbitrary - based merely on what stands out at the moment.  But we do come to God, or the "place of God", or place of worship, with various things in mind, whether conscious or subconscious.  To the 5,000, Jesus offered Himself as the Bread of Life, but observed that many were interested merely in loaves and fishes (free food and who knows what other free stuff God can give us!).  In fact, when He explained his mission with a plain metaphor (eat My body, drink My blood) most of those present weren't willing to hang around for an explanation - they just left. 

To many folks being relieved of emotional stress is practically as important as eating or drinking.  And the church has, historically and presently, provided music, or attempts to provide music that makes an atmosphere to evoke worship, or feel like worship ought to be taking place.  I'm not only speaking of the spacy sort of music we might associate with dimly lit cathedrals, candles and incense - even the evolutionists use that sort of music to evoke eternal feelings as they try to get you to feel a transcendent harmony with primal ancestors or tree DNA or gravity or whatever.  For about half of my life I ministered in Pentecostal churches, where music of all sorts, ranging from country gospel to spontaneous songs approaching Catholic chant, went on at great length, while people gathered at the altar, raising their hands, dancing, praying with each other, or sometimes just basking in the pleasant atmosphere.  I enjoyed being a part of this, very much.

Some of my lead pastors encouraged us musicians to cultivate an atmosphere of worship, and on some occasions actually took the congregation to task for being lazy and not actively worshiping God, something they perceived from perhaps a lack of enthusiasm at a particular time.  Maybe so, maybe not - sometimes this puzzled me, for I try not to consider the outside of a person, or judge if they are worshiping God, especially in the context of a church meeting.  A fair number merely want to be seen as religious, just as some like their beautiful, strong voice to be heard during the hymn. 

Perhaps we might come to church looking for a "godly feeling", and once the feeling is satisfied, it becomes like other feelings that are satisfied (food, sex, winning games, a promotion), and once satisfied it recedes into the background in importance in our lives.  This is vanity, as Solomon would say.  But the fact of the matter is that I come to church, even though I am on the payroll, hoping that I will experience godly feelings, the wonderful, grand feeling that God's presence is here, the holiness, the sense of awe that tops all other experiences in life.  I open my Bible hoping for godly feeling, much more than I open it to discern fine points of doctrine. 

Why?  I'd imagine because my emotions invade all areas of my thinking, and really there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel God's presence, not just simply "assume by faith" that He is here.

In this little essay I am desperately trying to make sense of something I've never been able to make sense of; but I hope it at least gives you good soul-fodder to munch.  The longer I live (and I'm starting to look at 70), it seems the less I can say anything that nails down the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said the Spirit is "like the wind - you can see its effects, but not know where it came from or where it's going."  Weathermen today can really give you a precise picture of where the wind is going, and where it came from - a few days ago. They even know what generates it (heat).  But they don't really know where it came from, and it has a way of surprising us at every corner.

This is great Greg, fact is, all you are saying makes perfect sense to me but in my home church (not the regular place I lead worship in) I reckon most people don't come for a 'godly, feel good' feeling or anything close to it, but merely to fulfil a Sunday obligation.  The songs are chosen to fit in with the readings for that day and there is no spontaneity whatsoever. Oh, what people are missing.  I realise it is not about godly feelings, but yep, I long for them too or some sort of sign perhaps that God is working through me.  Yes, our heads, hearts and sheer faith tell us all that but I sometimes think a little spiritual prod wouldn't go amiss.  I even pray sometimes to be given the voice of an angel and more technical guitar skills as the older I am getting I seem to be losing confidence in my abilities, not sure why, yet despite butterflies in my tummy, I still desire to worship.  We are made up of complex stuff or is it just me???!!!

Deut 6:4 God is one. - You can not separate the Spirit from the Father/ Son.

John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” We are taught this is the only way.

Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. With our all ( our spirit to His Spirit).

Again John 4:24 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

So my answer would be a definite no, just in these few verses and my own walk with Him.

Thank you Alan for your reply to an old thread and for the verses from scripture which reinforce your answer.  I also, remember a few years ago there was a discussion along the lines of 'What it means to worship in Spirit and truth' which you mentioned in your reply which also provoked much thought.

Not everyone will recognise the Holy Spirit at work, and the phrase 'be it according to your faith' also springs to mind.

Can't remember if I've answered here in the past. My Grandfather and many of his generation of church-goers and Christians were terrified of the Holy Spirit, the thought of not being in complete control, and would walk away from anything that looked to them like the Holy Spirit was around. Yet at the same time they would feel like God was talking to them, they were being inspired and directed, that the word was made alive to them. My grandfather was a lay preacher with the Brethren and later London City Mission & similar churches, and came from a line of preachers and ministers of various kinds.

It's partly poor theology & teaching, partly cultural.

What I'm suggesting is that the Holy Spirit may be at work to enable worship without people recognising or even being consciously willing for Him to be there. Remember Paul's words in I Corinthians about "no-one can say Jesus be blessed except by the Spirit of God"? I'd agree that worship without the Holy Spirit is impossible, but He may be there even when it isn't externally obvious, while I have a feeling He's sometimes not there, even when people have their arms in the air and emotions are running high.

An interesting response Toni.  I'm thinking about your Grandfather being terrified of the Holy Spirit yet felt like God was talking to Him, and He will have been without a doubt.  I wonder, did this come from misinformed teaching or not having an understanding of the Holy Spirit?  I think that yes, the Holy Spirit may well enable worship without people recognising or being aware of Him working through them, and sometimes it takes another person to recognise this.  

Like I said, partly poor theology & teaching, partly cultural.

The world was a big place without good explanations and clear thinking as we have now, and the King James bible that they all used was written in a particular way to bias the reader away from independent thinking and to lock them into a particular style of church. What it added up to was that the Holy Ghost was an obscure character of strange behaviour, rather than the Holy Spirit as part of the triune God at work in each of us that we presently understand Him to be.

There may have been other 'spiritual experiences' too. Seances and spiritualism were not unusual, and he'd certainly been to at least one meeting where a medium was present, because my mother relates a story where he was asked to leave & take his bible with him because they were preventing it from 'working'. Then there were those wild and strange pentecostals, all apparently out of control and in disorder (I'm writing tongue in cheek now) compared to 'proper' well-ordered church services. And the Brethren weren't noted for their freer thinking and innovative theology at that time, even though many key figures in the later Harvestime movement had a Brethren background.

It seems that very few in the 50s and 60s had any idea about the Holy Spirit - He was a deeply divisive topic, liable to get ministers ejected from churches and split congregations. The church I was part of in the late 70's was advised by Bruce Milne, then a lecturer at Spurgeons College, London, that the Holy Spirit was a dangerous thing for a church to be interested in, and that we should stay away from things of the Spirit. It's amazing to see how the church has changed in a generation.

I don't ever remember learning anything about the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost as He was referred to then, but as a child I remember being taught about the 'names' of the three persons of the Trinity but that was about it when it came to the Holy Spirit.  Looking back, I don't think the teachers at school or the parish priest had a clue.  Our last parish priest told me once that he went all through his years of training without the Holy Spirit being mentioned once, unbelievable!  Thankfully he came to the realisation later in life.

Interesting what you say about spiritualism, please excuse my ignorance but I've seen signs for 'Christian spiritualists' churches, what's that all about then? 

They aren't what could be considered Christians by orthodox theology any more than one would consider those belonging to the church of Jesus Christ of the latter day saints. The roots seem to stem from a more shamanistic world view, mixed up with Christian mysticism and a dose of the mumbo jumbo that seemed common in the 19th and 20th centuries in some parts of the church.

Wikipedia has an overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritualism_(beliefs)

And for more specific info: http://www.abingdonspiritualistchurch.co.uk/home/what-is-christian-...

There are parts of the Church of England (and presumably some other old traditions) that are not a long way from this way of thinking. I've had some CoE training, and they are a very broad church indeed, with one of the guest speakers suggesting we took our shoes and socks off & planted our feet firmly and squarely in order to have a good connection with the earth's energy when we prayed.

An alpha course I helped run about 10 years ago had a Christian Spiritualist lady (who was also a medium) come along. She had a very great deal to say, little of it either meaningful or particularly coherent, but frequently disruptive and very dominant: there was nothing that could be grasped or discussed, but she'd just talk about her ideas across everyone else in the group. I suspect there's no consistent theology, but rather a soup of concepts and ideas that participants can swim through as flatters their fancy.

I don't think I've replied on this old thread either. As a default answer, I'd say certainly you can NOT worship God without the Holy Spirit. The Bible clearly lays out that the Holy Spirit IS God, part of the trinity. The Holy Spirit is a person, not an "it" or a "thing" and the Holy Spirit isn't crazy or weird. The Bible has many names for the Holy Spirit, such as comforter, counselor, advocate, spirit of truth, intercessor, friend, etc. Those are all good things. :) Jesus said that He had to leave, but that He was sending another. Jesus could be with them in person but as He was fully God AND fully man, He could not be everywhere at one time. He said that He was leaving, but sending someone that would be even better for them, as the Holy Spirit could be with everyone at the same time, encouraging, teaching, comforting, etc in ways that Jesus couldn't in His God/man state.

The Holy Spirit is with us and in us... if we have accepted Jesus Christ. You can't have God without the Holy Spirit. My question would be... why would you WANT to??? The Holy Spirit helps us to pray, gives us power to witness, helps us to live holy, and helps us to worship in spirit and in truth as we are supposed to be.

The problem is this...

There are some people, teachers, churches, etc that have given the Holy Spirit a bad name by poor / incorrect teaching and by practices that are not the "real deal". Just like some people dismiss God entirely because of a life tragedy, a bad church experience or a pastoral failure... some Christians dismiss the person of the Holy Spirit for similar reasons. Whether it be some negative experience or portrayal, false teaching, or simply a lack of teaching... some throw the baby out with the bath water unfortunately.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is just that... a gift. Being baptized in the Holy Spirit is certainly Biblically supported and highly encouraged throughout the New Testament. Is it a requirement for salvation? Certainly not. But it is a gift, which is a good thing, and something that we should seek after as it helps us in our spiritual walk... which all of us need.

The speaking in tongues part freaks many people out... and focus on nothing beyond that. That in itself is NOT the Holy Spirit. That is the physical evidence of having had the experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. When that happens, you are not possessed or controlled. No one is moving your tongue for you. :) It is you speaking, just like you choose to speak any other time, but using words you hear in your spirit as opposed to your common language. For anyone that has not had that experience, it is hard to understand. I would just encourage anyone in that boat to pray about it and do what the Bible says to do... ask God for it. He desires to give His children good gifts.

Don't allow yourself to get caught up in goofy teachings, thoughts or even scared about the Holy Spirit. There is nothing to be scared of. He is part of the Holy Trinity.

I know there are people on this forum from all over the world and from a huge array of denominational backgrounds. I know some will disagree with what I just wrote and that's fine. I didn't write it to argue with anyone. That would be a pointless effort. I'm just laying out a few points, not based on what someone tries to convince me of at church, but based on what I can clearly read in Scripture for myself... and also based on personal experience.

I know the Holy Spirit plays a role in my life and I'm very grateful for that! I also know that I can always go further and have a closer relationship with the Holy Spirit. Besides... why would I want to go through my spiritual journey on a bicycle when I have full access to a motorcycle? :)

Nathan, thank you for an utterly open and honest reply.  

Being Spirit filled and using the gift of tongues comes as natural to me as breathing and it is nothing at all to be freaked out about.  The Holy Spirit, as part of the Trinity, is with us today as Jesus promised when He ascended into heaven, and if we allow Him, He will bring us closer to God  and continually teach us many things.  I am very aware of how He works in my life too.

Nathan, you mentioned about different denominational backgrounds, do you think there are particular denominations that 'promote' (for the want of a better word) the Holy Spirit more than others?  In my case, I kinda got wind of Him, argued with God, then God took His chance and jumped right in there.  Praise God.

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