Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Spirit was Really Moving

More than thirty years ago, when I was in grad school at Duke, I knew a number of the undergrads who were involved with InterVarsity. A Christian singer, who was very popular at the time, but who has since gotten old and faded into obscurity, was giving a concert in Raleigh. I went to the concert with several of the students because someone bought me a ticket, and I was curious. It struck me as an average rock concert (I had been to a few of those) with Christian lyrics. On the ride home after the concert, one of the students said, “The Spirit was really moving tonight!” I thought to myself that he needed to have been to a few more rock concerts. Because the performer did everything that any good rock musician does to get the crowd involved. Now the Spirit may have been moving that evening. I have no way of knowing. But my guess is it was simply stirred-up human emotion that made everyone feel good.

We have a tendency as Christians to link good feelings, whether it be at a concert or a worship service, with the moving of the Spirit. But we should be careful about that. We are too dependent on our feelings and too little dependent on faith. We are told that the Spirit moves where he will, but it is also clear that the Spirit moves in conjunction with the preaching of the Word (John 16:1-7; Eph 5:18-20; 6:17; Rev 19:10). We also know that the Spirit can move to convict as well as he can move to exalt. In fact, most of the preaching that we are given in Acts is used by the Spirit to convict of sin.

Thus we should recognize, by faith, that when the Word is faithfully preached, the Spirit is moving, whether we feel good, bad, or blah. It is probably the case that in any given service, some are being convicted by the Spirit, others are being encouraged by the Spirit, and others are being spiritually strengthened by the Spirit, but they all may or may not feel the Spirit. We are to walk by faith and the assurances of God’s Word, not by sight, or whether the service or the concert, made us feel good.

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