For the past few months I have felt led to study on the presence of God. In doing so I came across Gordon Fee’s book, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul.
At the same time, my wife Brenda and I have experienced an unexpected blessing. We have become actively involved, through our friends Dr. Nancy Cook and Dr. James Barber, with a ministry working alongside the local John 3:16 mission to provide food, church services, ministry and discipleship to the marginalized and homeless in the area.
For the last few weeks, from Passover to Pentecost Sunday (last Sunday), the church has been teaching about the ministry of the Holy Spirit from the context of the 3 major Jewish Feasts – Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles. Part of this teaching centered on Ephesians 1:3-14, where Paul teaches the Gentiles in Ephesus that God has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” And, “having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance….”
The intent of this line of teaching is to show that it is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we access our many blessings in Christ. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can get our spiritual needs met.
Obviously, the people in the mission are needy. Only God is able to deliver these precious folks and put their broken lives back together. Sometimes we are given the opportunity to facilitate that, sometimes we aren’t. The reason we continue to minister to them is not because they all are transformed into functional model citizens, but because some have, and someone else might….
As a result of what we were teaching in church, when studying Paul’s message to the Ephesian’s (2:18), I found something Gordon Fee wrote most inspiring (please pardon the fact it sounds a bit academic). He wrote that the Holy Spirit, “is the eschatological fulfillment of God’s promise to include both Jew and Gentile in one body. If so, then ‘In one Spirit’ replaces the temple as the place of access into the presence of God” (Pg. 683).
It is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we have access into the presence of God, and as a result, unity with one another. “…God himself by the Spirit has chosen to be present in our world in the gathered church” (Pg. 690).
This reminded me of what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:21-24.
Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem....Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
Jesus came to prepare a place for us to meet with God. That amazing place is “in the Spirit.” We are now the living temple of the Holy Spirit. God is Spirit, and we fellowship with him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and are being transformed into one body, the Body of Christ.
In watching the different reactions to the teaching and ministry of the Holy Spirit these last few weeks, I have noticed that it is often the degree to which we are able to help people press into the presence of their loving heavenly Father that they are able to get their spiritual needs met. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that these folks can get free of the addictions and strongholds in their lives that have brought them to this point – the mission.
While I understand and appreciate the intent of seeker sensitive services, I have to wonder how lasting change in the lives of hurting people can come about when the ministry of the Holy Spirit is intentionally minimized. The presence of God and the power to change a life come together in the person of the Holy Spirit.
As an organization, I love the fact that World Ministry Fellowship was founded by men of God because of their experience in and dedication to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
My intent in writing all this is to encourage you to continue to press in to discover the “more” that God has in store for you in His Presence, both for you and for those who will receive from the life you find there. Your ability to help others experience the presence of God may be the key to the miracle for which they are praying.
Keep setting the table, we are better together!
Wishing you all God’s best,