Eager Expectation

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on May 14, 2010

Acknowledging dependence on God's Spirit is one thing. Expecting him to act is another. 

Do our actions communicate that we believe God is actually with us? Do we expect him to reveal his power as we worship together?

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once asked similar questions to a group of Welsh pastors: 

Here is the crucial matter. Do we individually and personally really believe that God still acts, can act and will act—in individuals, in groups of individuals, in churches, localities, perhaps even in countries? Do we believe that He is as capable of doing that today as He was in ancient times—the Old Testament, the New Testament times, the book of Acts, Protestant Reformation, Puritans, Methodist Awakening, 1859, 1904-5? Do we really believe that He can still do it? You see, it is ultimately what you believe about God. If He is the great Jehovah—I am that I am, I am that I shall be, unchanged, unchanging,unchangeable, the everlasting and eternal God—well, He can still do it.

Yes, God can still do what he did in ancient times. He really does still act,and he really is unchanging. But do we really believe that?

Some of us believe in the Holy Spirit's empowering presence theoretically, but we don't seem to believe God is active when we meet. He's the Spirit of power in name only. Our focus is more on executing our plan than on expecting God to do anything through his Spirit. We move through a song listwithout considering what the Spirit may want to accomplish as we sing.

On the other extreme are those who expect the active presence of theSpirit but assume it will always be revealed in spectacular or unusual ways. If certain spiritual gifts aren't exercised or people don't appear visibly affected, then they conclude that the Spirit “hasn't shown up” or that he's been quenched or grieved.

The Holy Spirit is indeed present and at work every time the churchgathers. We just need to understand biblically what that means. When people grasp something of God's glory, the Spirit is at work. When people are convicted of sin, the Spirit is at work. When people receive hope and strength in the midst of a trial, the Spirit is at work. The Spirit may also choose to demonstrate his presence through a prophetic impression, a healing, or a heightened awareness of his nearness.

God doesn't reveal his power in spectacular ways every time we meet. Butwe can expect him to reveal it in some way. And I'm fairly certain he wants toshow his power much more often than we expect him to.

None of us should be satisfied with our present experience of the Spirit's presence and power. Paul's account in 1 Corinthians 14:24–25 challenges us. 

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. 

When is the last time a non-Christian came to your church and fell downon his face, convicted and gloriously converted? When is the last time youreally expected the Spirit to work that way?

No amount of technology, practice, planning, or ingenuity can produce thatkind of fruit. It is a demonstration of the Spirit's power in our midst.

Whatever you believe about the continuation of prophecy for today, thispassage at least implies that the Holy Spirit at times works in ways that are more spontaneous and dramatic in their effect. Do we expect him to work insuch ways? Do we allow any room for him to do so?

I don't want you to misunderstand this point. I believe in Spirit-led planning. I plan every time I lead. And I've been deeply affected, and God has been honored, by meetings that we've organized down to the last detail. We should expect the Spirit to work powerfully through the normal means of preaching, sharing the Lord's Supper, singing, and other means of grace. Bu the can also interrupt our meetings with an exhortation, a Scripture, a call toprayer, or a spontaneous impression that has had an effect similar to whatPaul describes in 1 Corinthians 14. 

So expect him to keep his promise to empower our activities as we gather in his name. Trust his word that he is eager to give each of us manifestations of his Spirit for the good of his church (1 Corinthians 12:11). And listen and watch for the Spirit's leading and promptings, leaving room for him to work spontaneously. 

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