By the power of the Holy Spirit

Published 12:53 pm Friday, November 30, 2018


Religion Columnist

You are on a paint crew. The boss tells you he has just got a great new contract on a 5000 square foot house. It the job can be done in less than two weeks you get a nice bonus check. When you get there, he hands you a watercolor paintbrush and says, “Go to work.” In one day, you get one room cut out. What are you going to do? You could get angry, throw paint on the walls, or just quit.

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I think this is a description of what it looks like to try to build up the church on human wit, wisdom, power, and might. It is what the American church does most of the time. We do our best to do good things for God by organizing our best volunteers with the most natural gifts and the most money. We execute the plan as best we can, pray to God along the way to bless it, and if all goes well, we step back and applaud ourselves for how well we did glorifying God with our power and might.

God does offer another way to do church, but it is so rarely done that we don’t really know how to do church any other way. We read in Zachariah 4:6, “So he (God) said to me (Zachariah), “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” The first thing to note is that God doesn’t prefer to work by the power and might of people. If this was true for Zerubbabel, I think we should we realize this is true for us today, especially since God gives Zerubbabel an alternative. That alternative is to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

In our modern times ask a church leader to describe what the person and work of the Holy Spirit is, and they may struggle with answers. The fact is many Christians think of the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy What’s His Name. Even in Spirit filled churches a Biblical understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit is limited at best.

A good place to start learning more about the Holy Spirit is in the Book of Acts. This is the story of the emergence of the early church. The early church had no power and might except what was revealed by the Holy Spirit. But the power of the Holy Spirit moved in great waves as churches grew up all over the world, thousands would be baptized at a time, and miraculous healing was common place among those early disciples.

If I have intrigued you at all about learning more about the Holy Spirit, I warn you, trusting in the Holy Spirit comes at a great price. A lot of Christians think of the Holy Spirit as a great power we tap into, like “The Force” in Star Wars. If we can just tap into the force of the Holy Spirit more won’t we see the things in Acts come true today?

No, the Holy Spirit is not a force to be tapped into. The Holy Spirit expects us to humbly submit our lives to Him. It is hard to be humble. It is hard to submit our lives to God. To do both requires us to really believe that our power and might are nothing compared to the power of the Holy Spirit, and we will make a full commitment. The more we humbly submit, the more we will see the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit become real in our lives and ministries.

How much do you know about the Holy Spirit? How does the Holy Spirit move in the lives of people in the Old Testament? How is that different than the way the Spirit moves after Jesus ascends to heaven? Who can receive the power of the Holy Spirit? How is the work of the Holy Spirit like a person? How can I know if something that is happening is from the Spirit, an evil counterfeit, or what I want? What are the inward and outward works of the Holy Spirit in my life? These are a few challenging questions to help you check and see how much you know about the Holy Spirit. If your knowledge is limited, you may be relying too much on your own power and might.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, visit