About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Worship And The Holy Spirit
I have already quoted John 4:23 and 24 in an earlier article. In this passage Jesus tells us that the Father seeks worshipers that will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Let us look at what it means to worship in spirit. In the next article we will see what it means to worship in truth.
Another interesting verse to note is found in Rom. 8:9. It says, "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" (NIV) Paul is saying that in order to be a true Christian we must have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. If we claim to be a Christian and do not have God's Spirit, then "we do not belong to Christ". Remember, I didn't say these words. I am only repeating what the Bible say. Therefore the Holy Spirit is fundamental and central to every aspect of our lives as Christians, including simply being a Christian.
The lack of the Holy Spirit's involvement in lives of people and the church was Paul's complaint to the Galatian church. He says, "You foolish Galatians. Who has bewitched you? ... Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Gal. 3:1-3 NIV) This is always our tendency as Christians. We start out allowing God's Spirit to influence all we do, but after a while we settle into "human effort". By "human effort" Paul means doing everything in our own strength, apart from the Holy Spirit. He means being works orientated, instead of Spirit led. This was the case with the Galatian church, and this is the case with many churches today. We do way too many things in our own human effort, leaving God's Spirit on the side lines. This can be seen in every aspect of church life, including worship gatherings.
When it comes to worship we tend to stand and sing two songs, listen to a prayer, sing another song and then sit down for the announcements. Should we be calling this worship? Let us look at the book of Acts to see what a church service looked like in the first generation church.
In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit fell on the first Christian meeting ever held. People spoke in tongues and glorified God to such a degree that outsiders saw what was happening and a couple of thousand people gave their lives to Jesus. This is an example of what some have called "Worship Evangelism".
In the prayer meeting of Acts 4, the Holy Spirit's presence was so strong that the building shook. (Acts 4:31)
Even the business meeting of Acts 6 did not exclude the Holy Spirit. The people were to choose seven men who were filled with the Holy Spirit to do many of the manual chores of the church. (Acts 6:3) After the choice was made, the twelve laid their hands on them in prayer. (Acts 6:6) The Holy Spirit was not left out of their business meetings either.
In Acts 10 we have the first recorded Christian meeting in a Gentile context. It was at Cornelius's house. Peter was preaching, and as we all know, he did not get a chance to finish what he wanted to say. The Holy Spirit came in such a way that it was like Acts 2 all over again. In Acts 10:45 and 46 we note that the men with Peter "were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and glorifying God". It is clear that there was no human effort in that meeting, no human restraints put on God's presence.
In the prayer meeting of Acts 12:12 to 18 we see the people praying for Peter who had been put in prison. In their astonishment Peter suddenly appeared at their door in answer to their prayers. Obviously their prayers were not prayed in human effort. These Spirit led prayers, had Spirit based results.
The Jerusalem business meeting of Acts 15 was a major turning point in the Jewish Gentile conflict in the early church. After discussing the situation thoroughly James, in the letter that was sent to the Gentiles said, "it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us..." The decision made at that meeting was a decision based on the presence of the Holy Spirit in their gathering. This was not even a Sunday morning meeting. This was a another business meeting, an important one at that.
In Acts 19 Paul had an impromptu meeting with some Ephesians. After explaining the good news of Jesus to these men more accurately the Holy Spirit fell on them, and as a result they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Once again, the presence of the Holy Spirit was the important thing in this meeting
In Acts 20 Paul was speaking in a meeting. Because he was soon to leave these people he spoke for quite a while. I guess not everyone was enthused by the length of his message, resulting in one young man falling out of the window to his death. One lesson that we can learn from this is to make sure no one sits in a window during our church gatherings in case they get bored and fall out as well. The important lesson to note is to see that the Holy Spirit was involved in raising this man from the dead.
These are most, if not all of the Christian gatherings mentioned in the book of Acts. Beyond these gatherings, their are many examples of individuals and how they allowed the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. The important thing that you can see in these Scriptures is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the activity of the church meeting.
Therefore, in light of these passages, when we come together to worship, it is important for us to give ourselves totally to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do as He wishes. Why should we put controls and limits on His activity? It is apparent that even in our Charismatic and Pentecostal Churches today there are limits to what God's Spirit can do, especially on Sunday mornings. We have reserved the gifts of the Spirit for another day or night in order to be more acceptable to more people. This was not the case in the book of Acts, so why should it be the case with us today. I don't think the Lord was concerned about being "religiously correct" in Acts 2.
This is my thinking. I know it may not be yours That is okay. I am only asking that you consider what I have to say. I feel the best form of Sunday morning evangelism, the best way to conduct a Christian gathering is to let the Holy Spirit have His way, without conditions. The demonstration of the presence of the Holy Spirit is the best way to draw people to Jesus. As a matter of fact, it is the only way to bring people to Jesus. So why use techniques that are second best, when the only real way to influence hearts and lives of people is by the Holy Spirit.
I also believe that the key to opening the door of our meetings to the Holy Spirit is to enter into intimate worship. By devoting our full attention to Jesus in song and prayer, we are inviting Him into our meeting. Once the Holy Spirit is in our meetings, we should let Him do what He wants to do. If we limit Him at that point, He may simply leave.
If we pray at the beginning of a meeting, and ask Jesus to be with us, and then don't give ourselves in intimate worship, then He will not come to be with us. Once again, intimate worship will unlock the door to the presence of the Holy Spirit. Then once the door is unlocked and opened, we should let Him stay. Intimae worship is a two way street. It is not simply asking Him into our meeting, but communing with Him once He is in the meeting with us.
In closing, I am not suggesting that all of our meetings will be as dramatic as the above mentioned Scriptures from the book of Acts. What I am saying, is that the presence of God's Spirit should be notable. Where the Holy Spirit is, good things will happen, and everyone should know that the Holy Spirit is there.