One of my very best friends, Arielle, got married just a few weeks ago, almost exactly a year after she got engaged. The moment she got engaged I set out to log every time I prayed for: date, time, and bullet points of what my prayers were. On the weekend before her wedding I handed her a small stack of papers with those prayers. We also got to go through a wonderful book by John Piper called, “This Momentary Marriage.” It truly blessed us both. I was blessed to be a part of her big day and she even asked me to sing during the ceremony. I was honored. She had chosen a song I was familiar with but I’ll admit, when she told me the title I was a bit hesitant – though I didn’t show this hesitance plainly on my face for her to see. I gladly accepted the offer to sing on her big day and that was the end of the discussion. In fact, I don’t think she knows my opinion of the song choice to this day.
“There’s nothing worth more, that will ever come close. No thing can compare, you’re our living hope: Your presence…Holy Spirit you are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for. To be overcome by your presence Lord…” and so on, and so on. It was nearly painful for me to sing these lyrics, and I realize that may be a bit extreme.
Later that evening I was seated at a table with a few of Arielle’s husband’s friends. They thought they might set me up with someone, thinking that by one particular guy being a Calvinist, I might hit it off with him. That didn’t work out, but he asked me who had chosen that song. Without thinking, I quickly responded, “Ugh! Arielle. Are you kidding? I would never have chosen that song.” Immediately I clasped my hand over my mouth in horror. “Oh my gosh, sorry… that was horrible.” It was too late. I already put it out there. He leaned forward in his chair, intrigued.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Well why not?”
“Well, I don’t really like Jesus Culture, Hillsong, or Bethel. I think those are heretical churches and I don’t fancy singing their songs.”
The rest of that conversation isn’t too relevant. Fast forward a few weeks to this morning (January 13, 2016). I had another opportunity to help a friend lead worship at one of my University’s chapels. I liked the set! Well, our chaplain got up and spoke about a topic for which they felt this exact song would be appropriate to end with. Yes, the message was on Spiritual gifts. And the song? About the giver of these gifts.
The message was one I have heard many times and am frankly exhausted from hearing about. It’s this idea founded on 1 Corinthians that we ought to earnestly seek the gifts mentioned in that passage; gifts like tongues, prophecy, healing, visions, dreams, etc. Our chaplain gave an example saying that someone might buy you a gift card to a spa for a massage. The gift card has been paid for and the gift given and the employees at the spa are ready to deliver. But the gift card is no use if you don’t use it. That was the big point – plead with the Spirit for your respective gifts. I was sitting on the floor in the very back, propped up against the back wall. I hid my face in my hands to hide my frustration at this redundant message. So frustrated in fact, that I came here to finally release it into the world wide web.
Ephesians 2 talks about the body of Christ that consists of many members. Near the end of the passage, Paul explains that the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church, Christ is the Cornerstone, and we are the structure being erected on this firm foundation. There are three clear distinctions made between Christ, the apostles & prophets, and us. This has helped me understand so much better, the separation in this present age and the age of the apostles and prophets. At the time 1 Corinthians was penned, I do believe those gifts were practiced and executed by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, even Paul kicks off the book by telling the church that they were weaklings in their faith for relentlessly seeking these gifts, oblivious to the fact that a far more superior means for revelation was coming – elaborated on in the book of Hebrews (the superior way being CHRIST in His WORD, the logos, aka logic, aka logically reasoning through His living Word). They were all quite at a disadvantage in Paul’s age. They had the Holy Spirit – sidenote: notice that Peter did not dare to deny Christ after he received the Holy Spirit, so don’t take solace in Peter’s idiocy. That was pre-Holy Spirit! We don’t have that excuse! – anyways, they ushered in the Holy Spirit by means of miraculous gifts. They needed it! God certainly revealed His Will and plans in the forms of visions and so on. But we now have something they did not: The full cannon of Scripture folks! There’s no need for those gifts any longer. I ere on the side of believing that “when the perfect comes” and these things pass away… well that “perfect” thing is a neutered now, meaning it isn’t a “he” or a “she” that is the “perfect.” Many think this refers to Christ’s return; that upon His second coming, these gifts may cease. Well it appears that some cease quite abruptly and others “pass away” gradually. Either way, they’re rendered unnecessary as this “perfect thing” comes and I currently hold to the belief that this “thing” is Scripture.
The Word of God is losing its steam. Rather, IT isn’t, WE are simply not believing in its power anymore. Can you believe that people think this amazing book is erroneous? Can you believe we treat it like a moral code book? What! Folks, this is all I mean to say:
Seek the Almighty God in the Living Word He has given us – Jesus Christ, His Son, has revealed all there is for life and Godliness; the final revelation (nothing new to come), in plain words to be studied using God-given logic, so as to grow in the knowledge of God, by His Spirit. Seek Him in His Word, not in your dreams!
As for that song, all I have to say is this… the Holy Spirit isn’t flattered or dependent on you welcoming Him. If you’re a child of God, He is dwelling inside of you. God is ever present. That charismatic movement or emotionally tugging camp you attended may have made you think you felt His presence a whole lot, and so any absence of that camp high makes you think the presence isn’t there, but He is present whether you feel it or not. I guess you wouldn’t know that if you’re not in His Word though.