To quote the words of Charles Dickens, it continues to be “the best of times and the worst of times” for evangelicalism. In a news story all but made for the “the worst of times” file, the Daily Mail, a British newspaper, reported the downright disturbing case of Brandon Barthrop, an advocate of what he has termed “the drunken glory”, who was not importing a curious brand of ‘Christianity’ to the sceptred shores of the United Kingdom.
As a resident of the UK, to see the likes of John Crowder (a man who by his own admission questions the Biblical understanding of the fate of those who do not believe the Gospel of Christ) peddling their spiritual snake oil on our shores fills me with no shortness of indignation. Their folly is evident to anyone who actually reads their New Testament and while these men are extremists without question – but they are indicative of a belief in several sectors of Christianity.
For some Christians, the Biblical idea of the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit – which I affirm without question – has been distorted into a view where the Spirit is basically a Divine Narcotic. No longer is he a Person who is fully divine in His nature and thus worthy of the reverence, awe and worship that is due the Almighty – no, He is more akin to a narcotic that empowers you to do things you otherwise couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do. In the same way, popping a tab of ecstasy makes you do the most wild things, the Holy Ghost, once you load up on Him (or it), will make you do peculiar things.
Dear friends, what a load of nonsense! The Spirit is fully and unquestionably God:
He is a Person – John 14:26, 15:26
He has a mind – Rom 8:27, 1 Cor 2:6-11
He has emotion – Eph 4:30
He has volition – 1 Cor 12:7, 11
He can be obeyed – Acts 10:19-21
He can be resisted – Acts 7:51
He can be lied to – Acts 5:1-11
He can be insulted/outraged – Heb 10:29
He can be blasphemed – Mark 3:28
He can forbid – Acts 16:6-7
He’s not a force, He’s not a drug, He’s not your “live-in lover” who makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when you frankly shouldn’t!
He is the Helper sent by God to empower and strengthen His people for the work of mission, He is the One who opens the eyes of our understanding to understand the Scriptures, He is the one who convicts of us and prompts us to repent and return to the one who can save and sanctify us.
Many question whether John MacArthur needed to discuss these excesses in so public a forum as the Strange Fire conference and book – my response is, “Why not? The world around us now is.”
It’s time we stop talking about the Holy Spirit like He’s the Biblical equivalent of some “special candy” and start honoring Him for who He is.
[Contributed by Kofi Adu-Boahen]
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