Forgotten God_ Theology of the Holy Spirit 101

Due to the fact that I did not originally come up with this stuff, I would like to give credit where credit is due. The thoughts written below are my take on the book “Forgotten God” written by Pastor Francis Chan. If you would like to learn more about this subject matter, I suggest that you buy the book and read it for yourself and not merely trust my interpretation. Thank you Francis for all of your hard work and devotion to our King!

For the sake of your time and my time in writing this blog, I’m going to make this short and sweet!

Who is the Holy Spirit?

For our relationship with the Holy Spirit to be correct, we need to have a good theological view point to view God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

Think about it this way: Theology helps us see God as He intended us to see Him and interact with Him in a proper manner. Or, to put in another way, our theology affects our methodology. Or, still yet another way, what we think affects what we do.

1) The Spirit is a Person not a force that we can wield. He has real feelings and desires for us to interact with Him as a person.

2) The Spirit is God and deserves to have the proper authority in our lives.

3) The Spirit is eternal and holy. The Spirit is here to stay, never to leave us, and He is far different from anyone that we will ever meet.

4) The Spirit has His own mind, and prays for us. The Spirits will is not our will and He cannot be led- He does the leading. The Spirit prays for us when we are praying out of God’s will.

5) The Spirit has emotions. Emotions are not weakness, but a gift that God created. Therefore, we can grieve the Spirit when we are not unified, spiteful, jealous, and selfish. Do you care if you offend God?

6) The Spirit is all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing.

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Forgotten God_ What are you afraid of?

Due to the fact that I did not originally come up with this stuff, I would like to give credit where credit is due. The thoughts written below are my take on the book “Forgotten God” written by Pastor Francis Chan. If you would like to learn more about this subject matter, I suggest that you buy the book and read it for yourself and not merely trust my interpretation. Thank you Francis for all of your hard work and devotion to our King!


“The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless.”

-Tertullian

Tertullian was one of the early Church fathers. He actually wrote the first of Latin Christian Literature. Tertullian spent much of his life writing against heresy in the Church, which in turn gained him much persecution. God however, used his writings to bring Trinitarian theology into the forefront in the early Greco-Roman Church.

Thanks to Tertullian, we now have much of our understanding of the Trinity.

Tertullian’s quote is undeniable when it comes to the call for the Christian life. “A Christian is fearless!”

I don’t know about you, but fear has paralyzed my walk more than once. I currently battle with fear in my Christian walk. there are all sorts of fears that limit my obedience to the Word and hinder my faith at times. Below I want to discuss two thoughts from the book that have summed up much of my lack of faith and my reasons for timidity concernging the absoluteness of the Gospel.

Two types of Fear

1) “What if I pray for the Holy Spirit and nothing happens? What if I ask for more of the Spirit’s fruit in my life and don’t see any apparent ‘results’?”

This is an extremely hard question to admit! It’s scary to pray boldly for change or freedom from sin, because if nothing happens, then doesn’t that mean God failed? Doesn’t that mean His Spirit isn’t all we’ve been told He is? Doesn’t that mean that God doesn’t really care?

This particular fear, I believe, can cause us to limit our expectations of God, or as Chan says, “cover for God.” By this I simply mean, we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more because we are afraid that God will not respond.

I can’t help but wonder how this kind of fear makes God feel: Imagine how much it pains God to see His children hold back from relationship with the Spirit out of fear that He won’t come through. How much it grieves Him to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made throughout Scripture due simply to fear! Does God not truly desire to bless us with this gift of the Holy Spirit!?

Luke 11:13 says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” God is a good Father, who passionately loves His children and wants intimacy with them. The Bible openly teaches that God is a good Father! It seems crazy to me that a good Father would ever hold anything back from the relationship with His children.

Do you believe that God in heaven gives His Spirit to those who ask? Do you really believe what the Bible says about this is truth?

In Acts, after Jesus has been resurrected and ascended to heaven, Peter addressed a crowd and declared, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” –Luke 2:38. Think about if you were in that crowd and Peter declared, “Repent and be baptized!” I doubt we would want to have anything to do with the guy… unless… the Spirit was actually doing something in our hearts… after Peter’s declaration 2000 people came to know and accept Jesus that day because of the Holy Spirits power!

I think it simply comes down to faith. I can’t make you believe that God is real, that He passionately loves you, that He pursues you resentlessly, or that He desires us to have joy. I can’t make a good enough argument that could never be contradicted. I think it all comes down to the question: Do you believe God keeps His promises or not? Do you believe that God exist and works in the world?

For some of you here, you’ve repented, been baptized, and have prayed in boldness for God to do something and have not experienced the results you expected. Now you are afraid of asking again because it would lessen your faith if God were to “fail to act” again.

A lot of people have asked me why God does not respond when they’ve prayed in faith. I don’t doubt that these people prayed in faith. In fact, I’ve experienced the same thing and I prayed in faith. Chan points out something that I think many of us overlook: But the question is whether they prayed for the things God has promised. Often, it’s the un-pomised requests that God “fails to act” in.

There is a huge difference between believing what God has promised and praying for things you’d like to be true! So, I encourage you to pray confidently for what God has promised and don’t put your hope in what others promise or what you’ve been told you’ll “get” if you’re a “good Christian.”

Chan says, “Ultimately, you need to stake your faith in God alone, not in the gifts that He gives. It really comes down to trust. Do you trust God that when He says no or ‘not in this way’ to you, you still believe He is good and doing what is best?”

2) “What if God does show up but then asks me to do something crazy or to go somewhere or do something that’s uncomfortable?”

I’ve asked myself this question more times than I can count. “If God were to tell me exactly what He wants of me, would I even want to do it?” Chan tells a story of this in his book:

A few years ago, I asked one of my friends if he genuinely wanted to know God’s will- no matter what God desired to do through him. His answer was honest: “No, that would freak me out.” He then admitted that he would rather not know everything God wants him to do. That way in the end he could say, “I had no idea You wanted me to do all of those things.” I appreciated my friend’s willingness to say what many secretly think and feel about total surrender to God. It’s honest, more honest than most people are willing to be.

Can you relate to Chan’s friend? Looking back at my life, I would have to admit that I’ve thought and felt the same thing. Even today, I am battling with this idea of total surrender.

The sad fact is, many of us just don’t want to be lead by anyone other than ourselves. The whole idea of giving up control is terrifying!

Imagine this for a moment: imagine that you are sitting in your room or coffee shop right now reading this blog. After reading this you ask God to reveal His will for your life right now. You look up from prayer and see God’s hand writing His will for your life on the wall (kind of like he did with the ten commandments in the OT). What would you think? Would you get up right then and go for it or would you say, “God I’m not really ready for that right now… can you give me something else?”

The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask us to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will always direct you to the Way of the cross, just like it led Jesus to the cross and so many others…

In C.S. Lewis’ book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is the story of the boy Eustace, who becomes a dragon. In order to become a little boy again, he must undergo a tremendous amount of pain as the dragon skin is peeled away and torn from him. Only after he endures this painful process is he finally changed from the dragon back into a boy.

Because of the Fall, sin has become such a part of our lives that it requires this same kind of ripping and tearing to return us to how we are supposed to be. The Holy Spirit does not seek to hurt us, but He does seek to make us Christlike, which can be a painful transformation.

So, if you say that you want the Holy Spirit in your life, you must 1st be honest enough to ask yourself if you really want to do His will or not.

Chan says, “Because if you do not genuinely want to know and do His will, why should you ask for His presence at all? But if you decide you do want to know His will, there will be moments when you have to let go of the fear of what that might mean- when you have to release your grip of control on your life and decide to be led, come what may.”

We just care too much about the opinions of others!

“A Christian is fearless.”

Our fear keeps us from truly allowing the Spirit to work in our lives. And our fear revolves around our appearance to others. We worry about how everyone will view us. We worry that if we submit to the Spirit that our lives will be really crazy! We fear being classified as the crazy-Christians or religious nuts. I don’t want to be classified as a religious nut!

But as followers of Christ, our relationship with Him has to be our focus! When we allow the perceptions of others to guide our lives, we allow their perceptions to control our lives and rob us of our relationship with Christ alone. We become overcome with the cares of this world, which we are no longer citizens of. We are citizens of another kingdom, a heavenly Kingdom, with a heavenly King!

Where does our allegiance lie? In the heavenly Kingdom or the earthly one?


Forgotten God_ “I’ve got Jesus. Why do I need the Holy Spirit?”

Due to the fact that this study and most of it’s thoughts are from someone else, I would like to give credit where credit is due! Thank you Francis Chan for your work and leading in writing the book “Forgotten God.” It has been a truly convicting and learning experience. Also for the sake of copyright laws, the ideas, thoughts, illustrations, and research presented below are NOT original to me! I did not come up with this stuff!

Bibliography

Francis Chan, Forgotten God, David C. Cook Publishing, CO: Colorado Springs, 2009

Introduction

“We may as well face it: the whole level of spirituality among us is low. We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone… [We] have imitated the world, sought popular favor, manufactured delights to substitute for the joy of the Lord and produced a cheap and synthetic power to substitute for the power of the Holy Ghost.”

-A.W. Tozer

We need the Holy Spirits guidance in our life. We need the Holy Spirits conviction in our life. We need the Holy Spirits power in our life.

Let me ask you just a few questions to start off.

  1. What do you know about the Holy Spirit?
  2. What does the Holy Spirit do?
  3. Have you ever experienced the Holy Spirits power?

If you said no to question number three, this is the very issue that we will be addressing tonight. I believe that most of us have absolutely no idea the power of the Holy Spirit for our lives. Take a look at these two verses:

John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all!”

Romans 8:9 says, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

It is the Spirit that gives life and anyone without the Spirit does not belong to Christ! Wow!

Do you believe this statement is true? Do you believe the Bible when it says this?

If so, why have you never experienced the power of the Holy Spirit?

You see, I don’t think that we really believe the Bible when it says things about the power of the Holy Spirits work in our lives. I don’t think we really believe that God can do great things with us. We may believe He can do great things through us, but no with us.

What do we actually believe?

Let’s look back at the A.W Tozer quote for a second.

“We may as well face it: the whole level of spirituality among us is low. We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone… [We] have imitated the world, sought popular favor, manufactured delights to substitute for the joy of the Lord and produced a cheap and synthetic power to substitute for the power of the Holy Ghost.”

-A.W. Tozer

Tozer says that we have measured ourselves by ourselves until the desire to seek the higher power of the Spirit is gone. Let me explain this, Tozer is saying that we are measuring our power in this world by our own power, but if the Bible is correct, then we Christians should be measuring our power by the power of the Spirit. Tozer is saying that we have sought after too much of the world and have actually become like it. So much like the world,  we have actually started to produce cheap worldly fruit/power instead of Spiritual fruit/power.

Why do you think it is that we have done this? Let me share a short section of the book to you:

Most of us assume that what we believe is right but have never really studied for ourselves. We were simply told, “This is the way it is,” and didn’t question. The problem is much of what we believe is often based more on comfort or our culture’s tradition than on the Bible.

Francis Chan, Forgotten God, pg. 29

How many of you have ever truly read for you the beliefs you have from Scripture alone? How many of you derived some or most of what you believe about Christ, the Bible, God, The Holy Spirit, and the Church from your pastor, parents, or friends?

Let me share you a cool story from the book:

Two Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door and initiated a conversation. I had a lot to do, so I prepared to send them on their way. But as they began their spiel, I decided to take a few minutes and engage them. I gently told them that I found their teachings about Jesus offensive because they taught that Jesus was the same person as Michael the archangel. I told them that I believe He is God. My visitors replied, “No, Jesus/Michael is the only archangel. There are no other archangels.” So I asked them to open their Bibles to Daniel 10:13, which reads, “But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me.” I pointed out that this passage is clear: Michael is only “one of” the chief princes (or archangels).

This caught them off guard. They told me they’d never heard or read this before. Now that I had their attention, I said, “There’s no way you can look me in the eyes and tell me that you sat down one day seeking to find God, read the Bible, and came to the conclusion that Jesus is the same person as Michael the archangel. No one could come to that conclusion. You only believe it because that’s what you were told, and I don’t want to stand here and spoon-feed you something else.” With that, I challenged them to read the Bible for themselves, rather than simply accept what they’ve been told about it. They went away that day and said they would consider doing that.

Francis Chan, Forgotten God, pg. 28-29

To be completely honest, I think we are just as hypocritical as these two Jehovah’s witnesses. How can we say that we believe anything about Jesus or the Holy Spirit without actually checking it out for ourselves.

I think this is what A.W. Tozer meant when he said, “the whole level of spirituality among us is low. We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone…”

Imagine this…

Imagine for a second that you had never been to an American church before, in fact, imagine that you were alone on an island with nobody or anything but the Bible. If you or I had never been to church and had read only the Old and New Testaments, we would have significant expectations of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Think about it. Before Jesus’ death he told the disciples that “another Counselor” is coming. In John 16:7 Jesus goes as far to say that it is to their advantage that He leave so the Spirit could come!

Imagine that you just spent the past 3 years walking and learning with Jesus, then one day He just says it’s better that I leave you so that you can have the Spirit! It would leave you thinking that “Man, this Spirit thing must be really awesome!”

Then in Acts 1:4-5, after Jesus died and came back, he told the disciples to chill in Jerusalem and wait for the Spirit to come. Most historians believe they waited up to around 3 months!

Then in Acts 2 this promise of the Spirits coming was fulfilled and 2000 people came to believe in Christ in one day.

So if we were to have read and believed these accounts, outside of the church bubble, then we would have most definitely have a greater expectation of the Holy Spirit.

The Power of the Spirit

Romans 8:9 says, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.” In 2 Cor. 6:19-20 Paul says it again, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

So by these two verses, if true, we have the Holy Spirit- Part of the Triune God- living inside of us. This Spirit living inside of us gives us a new power like never before. Not only are we no longer spiritually dead in our sins and forgiven of our sins, we are now gifted with the unique and awesome power of the Holy Creator God! How amazing of a thought is that!?!

So when it comes to our interactions with others, the power of the Holy Spirit should be present in a supernatural way, that is if He lives inside of us, that is if we are His. We ought to look completely different from those outside the church. Our actions, our lifestyles, our attitudes should look way different.

Let me stop here for a second. If the Spirit living inside of us gives us new actions, new lifestyles, and new attitudes then it is not by anything that we did, it is solely by the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us that fights off sin. Check out these verses about the Spirits purifying us:

2 Thess. 2:13 says, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”

Rom 8:4 says, “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

Rom. 8:13 says, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

So, it is the Spirit’s power inside of us that changes our actions, our hearts, and attitudes.

Illustration

Pretend for a second that I told you that I had an encounter with God where He entered by body and gave me a supernatural ability to play guitar that would just blow your mind, wouldn’t you expect to see an amazing improvement in my shredding skills?

So, if you saw no change in my ability, wouldn’t you question the validity of my “encounter?”

Chan says in his book:

Churchgoers all across the nation say the Holy Spirit has entered them. They claim that God has given them a supernatural ability to follow Christ, put sin to death, and serve the church. Christians talk about being born again and say that they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning. Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God. And can you blame them?

Francis Chan, Forgotten God, pg. 33

We say that there is something radically different about us than the rest of the world, but if we were to step back and look at our lives could we honestly say that the power of the Holy Spirit is present causing this radical change? Or must we honestly admit that often lack the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, longsuffering,… when some of our non-believing friends may even exhibit these traits better than us?

Conclusion

So, when Jesus was preparing to leave this earth, He comforted the disciples in telling them to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them that it was better for Him to leave and they have the Spirit than for Him to stay and they not have the Spirit.

Which are you desiring most- Jesus or Jesus through the Spirit?

And this question is one I just can’t get around: If it’s true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the temple of the Spirit, then shouldn’t there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of them and the person who does not?

One more short illustration

For all its caterpillar life, it crawls around a small patch of dirt and up and down a few plants. Then one day it takes a long nap. A long nap. And then, what in the world must go through its head when it wakes up to discover it can fly? What happened to its dirty, plump little worm body? What does it think when it sees it tiny new body and gorgeous wings?

As believers, we ought to experience this same kind of astonishment when the Holy Spirit enters our bodies. We should be stunned in disbelief over becoming a “new creation” with the Spirit living in us. As the caterpillar finds its new ability to fly, we should be thrilled over our Spirit-empowered ability to live differently and faithfully.

Francis Chan, Forgotten God, pg. 37

I want to live so that I am truly submitted to the Spirit’s leading on a daily basis. I want to live like my God really exists! I want to live like Christ’ words about it being better for me that the Spirit came to be true. I want to live in a way that Bible critiques everything I say or do. Just like the caterpillar, I don’t want to keep crawling when I have the ability to fly.

Understanding Self…

People say that the hardest thing to do is understand people. I think that is the second hardest- the first is self! The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:14-20 some pretty hard to digest words:

15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

I feel the same way sometimes, “I do not understand what I do!” I find it so hard sometimes to understand myself, my motives, my reasons behind things, and even my own thoughts. Do you feel this way too?

I so desperately want to do what is right in God’s eyes. I so desperately want to know and understand His ways- truth, but I continuously struggle with it.

Paul says that he “knows that nothing good lives inside of me, that is, in my sin nature.” It seems to me that Paul struggled with the same thing as I. Paul, however, gives the answer as to why it is this way. Paul says that it is the evil that lurks inside of him.

Now, as I look at myself, I can see the evil that is there, but I can’t see how it manifests itself always. I’ve discovered that the sin problem is so deep rooted, so ingrained (like white trash DNA) that I can’t possibly get rid of myself. There is absolutely no way that I could weed through all of the tares that are mixed in with this wheat. But there is someone who can, someOne who does do this very thing of weeding out the tares. His name is the Holy Spirit- the Great Counselor.

With that said, I want to stop for a second and focus on the Counselor Himself. I’ve been to a human counselor before, when I was a child and I’ve had the opportunity to have some counseling classes in college. I’ve learned that a good counselor takes his time and works patiently to help a person through their problems. You see, people have problems- lots of them! Everyone does, not just the clinically insane! We all have the OCD tendencies if you will, things that drive us crazy, things that cause us to think bad things about people, and things that misconstrue the truths that we have heard. A good counselor is patient, but brings these things to the surface so that we can see them and identify the deep problems as practical ones. To see the deep rooted problems in our life is to see be freed from their control in your life. A good counselor does this. I think this is exactly what the Holy Spirit does in our lives when it comes to sin.

We can’t possibly weed out all of the sin in our life, because we are blind to it- we don’t know how much of it is there! Here’s a story to illustrate: Rachel’s aunt and uncle, totally wonderful people, just adopted their second little girl from China. The little girl speaks very little english but is brilliant, funny, and beautiful. However, she does have one very obvious physical defect- her left hand is missing all its fingers. This little girl was either born without fingers on this hand or lost them at a very early age. But the neat thing is, she doesn’t act like she misses them! She does everything that her new sister does without any complaint or problem! She doesn’t see that there is a problem with her hand. She doesn’t notice that her hand doesn’t work like it should. She doesn’t notice it because she never known different.

I think that we are blind to our own sin because we were born into it; meaning that we have lived with this “physical” defect for so long that we don’t even notice that it’s not as it should be. So just like Rachel’s new cousin isn’t bothered by her hand, we are not bothered by our sin!

But the sad fact is, the sin is still there. I know the sin is still there because I still can’t do what I know I should. I know it’s still there because I can’t stop doing what is wrong. In fact, I think that most people, whether they realize it or not, know that there is some kind of problem in the world that needs to be fixed. Remember when you saw the Haiti tragedy on TV? Remember the feelings and thoughts running through your head? You knew that it was wrong! You knew that something was wrong! You knew that “this is not how it’s supposed to be!”

Maybe you blamed God, maybe you blamed society for all the pollution; whoever you blamed, the fact still remains- something is wrong! This is not how it’s supposed to be!

My struggle right now as I write is this: Why do we continue to live as if the problem doesn’t exist? Why do we let the problem continue in our lives? Why are some many of us, including myself, not going to the Counselor for help?

If we knew that something was wrong with our mental stability, we would make every effort to get it fixed! We would never miss an appointment with the doctor. Why is that? I believe it’s because we would understand that we are broken and need to be fixed.

Do you understand that you are broken? Do you want to be fixed?

It’s time to make an appointment with the Counselor! It’s time to get some help! It’s time to stop denying the truth you know inside!

I’m calling in right now to make mine, don’t wait! Join me!

New Series!

Powerful.
When is the last time someone used that word to describe you?

It doesn’t make sense that Almighty God would have children characterized by fear and insecurity. He put His Spirit in us so we could be known for our power. Sadly, most believers and churches are known for talent or intellect rather than supernatural power. What’s worse is that we’re okay with it.

Could it be that we’ve forgotten the One who distinguishes us from every religion and cult in the world?

It’s time for the beloved Church of Jesus Christ to reverse the trend of neglect. let’s pursue the Spirit-filled life of effectiveness God desires and we desire.