In this season our Home Group Leaders are studying together the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our hope is to grow in experiencing the “active presence of God” according to the ministry of the Holy Spirit as a local church and individual Christians. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology has been our main text as we grow together in knowledge and expectation.
In light of this present study Adam Greenfield suggested we take a look at Francis Chan’s most recent book, Forgotten God, which is on the Holy Spirit. I’m just jumping in but thought it might serve some to share a taste of Chan’s invitation to drink deeply of God’s presence. It is an easy read and engaging both in subject matter and tone. Frankly, Chan couldn’t be boring if he tried.
I can’t entirely endorse the book as of yet because I haven’t finished it, but so far so good. Here is a taste. Hopefully you can draw up a chair to the table and we can enjoy the meal together. Subtitles are mine…
The State of the Church
The “entertainment” model of church was largely adopted in the 1980s and ‘90s, and while it alleviated some of our boredom for a couple of hours a week, it filled our churches with self-focused consumers rather than self-sacrificing servants attuned to the Holy Spirit. (pg. 15-16)
On our Need and Public Relevance
Without Him, people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice. (pg. 16-17)
…if the Holy Spirit moves, nothing can stop Him. If He doesn’t move, we will not produce genuine fruit – no matter how much effort or money we expend. The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes purely a human creation. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God. (pg. 18)
Chan’s Purpose in Writing in His Own Words
Hundreds of scholarly theological books have been written on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of the Trinity, et cetera. This book is not one of those. Obvious, neglected, and crucial are the adjectives I would use to describe the truths I will present.
In the following chapters, I will explore the fundamental knowledge most of us have about the Holy Spirit. We will delve into some key Scriptures about the Holy Spirit and look at our own abuses, misconceptions, and even fears of Him. By journeying honestly, I hope we can go beyond our current understanding of the Holy Spirit and begin to commune openly … that our experience with Him would be day by day, even moment by moment. That by keeping in step with the Spirit, we might regularly fellowship over what He’s doing rather than what He did months or years ago. We’ll be reminded of the strength and wisdom available to us in the Spirit and earnestly pray for more. As we trust in the promises of the Spirit, we will be led away from discouragement and into lives marked by confidence, power in the midst of our weakness, and the fruit of the Spirit.
My prater is that your changed life would produce this kind of astonishment: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (pg. 18-19)
In Awe of God
Even our church growth can happen without Him. Let’s be honest: If you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church. Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming. It simply means that you have created a space that is appealing enough to draw people in for an hour or two on Sunday.
It certainly does not mean that people walk out the doors moved to worship and in awe of God. People are more likely to describe the quality of the music or the appeal of the sermon than the One who is the reason people gather for “church” in the first place. (pg. 31)