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5 Questions on the Holy Spirit

welcome to five questions today we have a Wes McAdams with us and Wes is the preaching minister at the McDermott Road Church of Christ and also blogger and author and kind of do podcast got your hand in a little bit of everything so you know as we get started here West tell everybody a little bit about yourself I preach for the Church of Christ on McDermott Road Plano Texas north of Dallas got a wife and two little boys they keep me pretty busy and like you said I blog and I podcast a little bit right a little bit but just thankful to be a part of what God is doing in the world yeah and I know those blogs and podcasts have blessed a lot of people and so you know it’s kind of interesting I do a little bit of that myself and you know you kind of have this ministry that you see people every Sunday and Wednesday and throughout the week and then you have kind of broader ministry that reaches all kinds of people but it’s been a blessing to many people and I actually I asked you on the to be on here today because you’ve recently done a series of sermons on the Holy Spirit and so I want to you know ask you five questions about the Holy Spirit and I guess the you know where do you begin I would think you begin with who is the Holy Spirit you know the Holy Spirit’s not a watt but but who is he yeah that’s a great question and and I think that for me it’s helpful to even define the word spirit both in the Hebrew and in the Greek the word spirit has can be used as the like we think of spirit but it could also be used just to literally mean breath or wind and I think that’s helpful as a metaphor to help us to understand any spirit much less the Holy Spirit and so when I preach this series I started by taking a piece of paper up to the pulpit with me and blowing on it then I said you know when when something is moving whether it’s the trees that are swaying outside that we know that the force that’s moving them is the wind and if I blow on a piece of paper then then it’s my breath moving it and and it’s kind of interesting because it’s something that comes from me so this breath proceeds from me and you could say that it was me moving the piece of paper if somebody asked well who move that paper you could say well West’s move that paper and so that’s true but it’s also true that something that was distinct from me move that paper so my breath is me but yet at the same time it’s distinct from me and in the same way the Spirit is is distinct from the Father but yet is also God and so the spirit proceeds from the father and goes into the world to accomplish to accomplish the will of God in the world and we see the work of the spirit both in the Old Testament and the New Testament and the Spirit worked in different people at different times whether it be the judges like Samson who you know had a great deal of strength through the power of the Spirit and who did the will of God in that respect in that way in delivering God’s people at that time or you know in the New Testament and the Spirit working through Jesus or whatever the case may be so I think it’s it’s it’s helpful to think of the spirit you know like wind or breath the difference is like you said that the spirit isn’t to what when their breath is a what but the Spirit is personal the scripture always uses personal pronouns when talking about the spirit so he is a he he is he has a personality so I like to say that he is the spirit is the personal invisible empowering presence of God and so I think that that’s that’s who the Spirit is he is personal he’s invisible that that’s back to the spirit idea he’s empowering he empowers individuals to do the will of God and he is the presence of God in the world so where the Spirit of God is God is there yeah yeah and it’s kind of interesting of course you know when you’re dealing with Hebrew and Greek you could kind of run into some funny things sometimes and we have these three words you know spirit breath and wind but that gets used at times you think for instance in the Gospel of John when Jesus breeze you know his disciples and he’s foreshadowing you know something that is to happen and so they kind of kind of have some interplay there yeah I’m sure yeah next question is why are some quick some Christians reluctant to maybe talk about the Holy Spirit or discuss the Holy Spirit we hear that sometimes you know they’re just we’re not gonna say anything about the Holy Spirit you know yeah I think I think for a couple of reasons I think one reason we might be and I and I’ve fallen into that category for sure I think on the one hand there’s a fear if we start to hug it too much about the Holy Spirit you know I think that there’s some people that are afraid that they’ll be lumped into a category like the charismatic movement and so there’s the fear that I don’t want to be you know they we look in Scripture and there’s a whole lot about the spirit there there’s a whole lot about the spirit and if you start preaching speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible silent then you’re gonna say a lot about the Holy Spirit but I think there’s a fear that if we talk too much about the Holy Spirit then maybe people will think that we we mean what what another group means or what a charismatic person means by the work of the Spirit and so I think there’s a fear there I think there’s also within Churches of Christ especially there’s been and I think in the broader religious world there’s been a lot of debate and division and fighting and arguing over who the Spirit is how the Spirit works how he operates in our lives today and and I think that that a lot of people just don’t want to get into it you know they just say I don’t I don’t know I don’t really care you know I’m not gonna take a side I don’t want to have a fight I don’t wanna have an argument and I appreciate I appreciate the peacekeeping aspect of that of saying you know I don’t want to fight with people about this and I don’t think we should fight about it but I also think that we have to take scripture seriously and sometimes that means that we do take a side and we do say okay here’s what scripture says about the spirit and I may not understand all there is to understand about it I may not be able to figure all these things out because there’s a mystery to it I mean that kind of inherent in the idea of the Spirit of God is is there’s a there’s a mystery to it to that idea and so I think that we don’t need to argue and fight about it but but we do have to we do have to speak truth about it about this idea and about the Spirit himself and so yeah I think that I think sometimes we’re trying to avoid a fight and I think at other times we’re just trying to avoid being grouped into a certain category yeah it’s kind of sad when you think about all the the fighting you know throughout Christianity regarding the spirit because the Spirit is supposed to bring unity but you know you think about God the Father Jesus the Son pretty much everyone agrees on that there’s not much discrepancy differences regarding those two individuals but when you talk about the spirit you know kind of across the board there is some disagreement and some people who you know have strong opinions about what the Spirit does and does not do as with a lot of theological issues I think we have this tendency to swing in a pendulum and so we reject one idea so we sort of go to the opposite extreme and I think we’ve seen that in Churches of Christ where we have rejected and I think with good reason a lot of what’s come out of the charismatic movement and so we’ve rejected some of those ideas but but yet at the same time we swung to this almost opposite extreme where many with them within Churches of Christ almost I am sure nobody would accept the idea that they you know say the spirit doesn’t do anything or that he doesn’t operate in the life of believers now but almost you know that position and so I think we have to be very careful to base our theology on what scripture actually teaches rather than trying to distance ourselves with an idea with which we disagree yeah and that leads me to my next question is what’s the danger in to collecting the holy spirit so just not talking about it yeah I think I love Romans and I love what Paul says in Romans seven and eight about about the spirit and how you can’t you can’t live the life of a decide well without the dwelling of the spirit if you don’t have the spirit you don’t belong to Christ Paul talks a lot about the flesh and that the only way we can begin to overcome the weakness of the flesh and the sin that dwells always say to send the dwells in our flesh the only way we can begin and I don’t think we’ll ever perfect that as long as we’re in the flesh but but I think is you know as long as we’re in the flesh the only way we can begin to manifest the fruit of the Spirit is by acknowledging his presence by praying the Apostles Paul prayed diligently for the churches for the Spirit to strengthen them for him to indwell them Paul commanded in Ephesians 5 he commanded the church at Ephesus for the spirit to dwell in them you know we don’t talk about that much very often as a commandment it is an imperative to let the are to be filled with the spirit and so if we don’t if we don’t emphasize the spirit that I think that we’re trying to accomplish the work that Jesus has for us to do by our own strength by our own flesh and I think the results of that are walking by the flesh we forget sometimes Galatians 5 when Paul is talking about the two ways of living your life either by the flesh or by the spirit and he says the the works of the flesh are evident and he goes on to list all of these works in the flesh and he’s really chastising the Judaizers who are saying you know in order to be part of God’s family you need to be circumcised they’re trying to accomplish the purposes of God by means of the flesh it isn’t that they’re that they’re wicked and you know wild living crazy lives out there in the world they’re trying to be religious people but they’re trying to be religious people by means of the flesh and the results of that are things like envy and fighting and anger and all of these things and we see that we see that in the religious world we see that in ourselves that when we try to do the will of God by our own strength it produces pride and envy and jealousy and anger but the fruit of the spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and so that I think that the results of not emphasizing the spirit is having a lack of fruit of the Spirit and manifesting the the works of the flesh yeah you know one thing I’ve found and this may be due to the neglect of talking about the spirit is when I’ve actually preached on it or taught on it that people have been very grateful for those lessons I just want to ask you what was your experience preaching that whole series of lessons on the Holy Spirit how did people respond to that I think that the one complaint was that I was only spending a few weeks talking about the spirit they people were very appreciative said that they had never heard sermons whether on the spirit or in that vent in depth which is sad to me the reason we only spent a little while on it in our series is that we’re sticking with the Gospel of John right now and so I was only looking at the spirit as revealed within within the Gospel of John as Jesus talks about the work of the Spirit so we were kind of limiting ourselves in that way but yeah people’s reaction was overwhelmingly positive they wish that we could have spent more time talking about the spirits work and so do I I look forward to more of that yeah and so maybe encourage others to preach on it and teach on as well you know while we’re there just one quick question I know I’m putting you on the spot here but um was there a particular resource or anything that helped you in preparing for those lessons or something that you found meaningful that you can share with others use a whole lot I’ve been doing because I’ve been studying John and because I’ve been working through John this whole year I’ve been doing some you know I’ve had several I can’t think of any off the top of my head but their names but so I’ve been using several John yeah commentaries just to kind of make sure I’m on the right track but but I like to to take a very my approach on almost everything is to take a book approach and look at the whole book and look at various themes and sort of try to interpret a passage in light of the whole book and so on generally a lot of commentaries they focus a lot of the verse you think hey this guy’s writing a commentary on the whole book you think he would kind of take into consideration the whole book but sometimes it’s like well the way you’re interpreting the word truth there isn’t in light of the way John is using the word truth throughout the entire book so I wish I had some good resource um great resources out there on the Holy Spirit but I really don’t have any to write down right now so read your Bible that’s that’s it get your Bible that’s good advice so now here’s the big question and I know that you cannot cover all this in the time that we have today but maybe say a few things and and this is the question I think most people want to know how does the Holy Spirit work in the life of a Christian that’s one we we ought to be asking you know how and we ought to be asking will you you know we ought to be frank will you allow the spirit or please allow the spirit to work in my life I think it’s been really helpful for me again we were looking specifically at the Gospel of John and of course the Gospel of John is all about Jesus it’s all about how Jesus is the new center of everything he’s the center of everything that that the old decimo is pointing forward to and that that all of the the hopes and desires of God’s faithful people are all converging in Jesus and so the Spirit has to be interpreted and understood in that light and Jesus would say things like he would call the spirit the Spirit of Truth and I think that in John the word I’ve been using for truth is reality that Jesus is reality Jesus is the real king in spite of what appearances may be in spite of the illusions of power and leadership and you know whatever the case may be in spite of the way things appear to be and the way things look to be the reality is Jesus as king Jesus is Messiah Jesus is Lord Jesus is God in the flesh and so Jesus is the reality and this spirit bears witness to that truth so the spirit is the spirit of truth and and when Jesus tells his apostles that the Spirit will guide them into all truth I mean that could mean a lot of different things if you take that in isolation what does that mean well I mean in context the truth Jesus says I am the way and the truth and the life and Jesus is the truth and the Gospel of John truth is Jesus that Jesus is reality and so the spirit bears witness to that truth to that reality that is Jesus and so I think that that the spirit continues to work that way in revealing Jesus to us in helping us to see that Jesus is reality that Jesus is real I I always come back to see this Lewis saying that that that the gospel is true not because he sees that but by the gospel he sees everything else you know and and and so the Spirit gives us I believe the wisdom to see or the eyes to see the wisdom of the Cross Paul says that the natural man can’t discern the wisdom of God the natural man looks at the cross and says that’s foolish how in the world is God going to overcome the forces of darkness and reconcile his people to himself and forgive sins and and accomplish all of these great things through the cross that’s you know he would say that the the Greeks and the Jews look at it as as foolish and scandalous yeah but for us that are being saved it is the wisdom of God and it’s the spirit that helps us to see to have the eyes to see that this is the way God is bringing about the reality that he promised and so I think that’s what that what John me or what Jesus means in the Gospel of John by saying the Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and I think Paul also I think it’s we can’t separate the work of the Spirit from the fruit of the Spirit even even in churches like Corinth where where there were people that that had these gifts of being able to prophesy or speak in tongues or had miraculous knowledge even in that context Paul would say listen don’t get so caught up in these types of gifts the the things that are important are faith hope and love and to the churches in Galatia he would say this is the fruit of the Spirit love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness so how does the spirit work in our lives well I think the spirit helps us to see the wisdom of the Cross the wisdom of God accomplishing his will through the cross of Jesus Christ and not only see it but accepted and adopted as our new way of living our lives and so the spirit helps us to adopt self giving love and faithfulness to God as our way of life and the fruit of that is love joy and peace and patience and kindness it’s it’s it’s evident from everything that Paul writes you know you think about Ephesians chapter 4 or Romans chapter 12 or first Corinthians chapter 12 about Paul saying the Spirit has always worked in different people in different ways there’s eyes and there’s a nose and there’s a mouth we’re all part of the body and so the fact that the Spirit would work differently and empower the Apostles or some of the first century Christians to speak in tongues or to heal the sick or whatever and wouldn’t empower me that way I shouldn’t look at that as a strange thing because Paul was very clear the Spirit works differently in different people and and I think at different times and so the church needed that initial outburst of the power and the work of the Spirit in the first century to build up the church and once I think in Ephesians 4 I think Paul is saying once the church reaches this level of maturity then there’s other gifts that the Spirit is giving and and equipping the church with and and they’re the important ones it was never that speaking in tongues was was all that important what was really important was love that’s what Paul would say at first but it is yeah in kind of going along there on 1st Corinthians the next layer 2nd Corinthians you know one of the passages I really enjoy is the the end of chapter 3 there where he focuses on the spirits work on transformation you know that we’re being transformed from one degree of glory to another and you know that’s because of the Lord who is the spirit and and again that’s what’s import sort of that you know through to that spirit that that love and that joy and those things and being transformed to the image of Jesus and and that’s more important than you know being able to speak in tongues or do anything like that you know exactly and so kind of puts the goal out there that Jesus is the goal you know well I I know we come across this from time to time you probably come across I know I have what if someone today says you know the Holy Spirit’s leading me and the way that they’re being led is a way that is in contradiction with Scripture you know how would you respond to something like that I think it all comes back to what you just said that Jesus is the goal if the Spirit of God if his job if his primary job is to reveal Jesus and help us to see the wisdom of Jesus and draw us closer to Jesus and transform us to be more like Jesus than anything that doesn’t fit that paradigm anything that doesn’t fit in that category is not from the spirit and so if somebody says for instance you know hey I just feel like God is leading me to leave my spouse well I know for a fact that God is not leading you to leave your spouse because the Spirit of God the fruit of the Spirit of God is faithfulness faithfulness to your spouse but also faithfulness to the church so if somebody says well I feel like the Spirit is leading me away from the church and you know I’m a spiritual person but I’m not very religious and you know I don’t I don’t feel like I need the church you know the spirit leads me where I need to go no no no then so much of what the the New Testament when Jesus would teach and the Apostles would teach was this one another stuff this community stuff this family stuff and so if if you feel like you’re being led away from the family of God and being a part of this community of faith then you may be being led by a spirit but it may be your own spirit or worse so you know but but it’s not the Spirit of God the spirit of God draws us into community with the family of God and yes it’s challenging and it’s hard and so I think sometimes you know for instance again if somebody’s saying well you know I just feel like I’m being led in this other direction and I don’t need the church and so they’re being you know quote-unquote led away then you know if it’s because our flesh desires the path of least resistance it’s easy to just walk my own path and just pretend that it’s God that’s moving me in that direction but God leads us not in the path of least resistance but in the path of discipleship the path that’s making us more like Jesus and that necessitates being a part of a community of faith so the Spirit is going to produce in our life love and joy and peace and patience and kind of but but also faithfulness faithfulness to our family faithfulness to the church faithfulness to the teaching of the Apostles faithfulness to to God and so I think that that’s that’s the thing against which we we check where we feel like we’re being led I’m not saying the spirit isn’t leading a person but I think the spirit primarily leads us in the sense that he gives us wisdom and he gives us eyes to see you all throughout the Gospel of John Jesus uses this metaphor of blindness and sight light and dark and so there’s some people that are in the dark and they cannot see if all would pick up on the same themes when he’s writing to the Corinthian church and he said listen the natural man can’t see these things he can’t perceive or understand these things and even when Paul is talking about the spirit in Ephesians 5 so much of what he’s saying has to do with wisdom and so I think primarily the Spirit gives us wisdom he helps us to see the way that we should go he helps us to see and understand right and wrong and and we check that against Jesus against the cross against the fruit of the spirit against the works of the flesh and we look at that and we say hey if if this is a work of the flesh then it’s not from the spirit if it’s from the spirit then it’s going to produce faithfulness and love and joy and peace and all of these other things yeah is this a place where we might bring in a passage like you know that we are to test the spirits just to make it known that there are other spirits out there doing work you know even the spirit of this age whatever and so somebody feels that they’re being led by something well it’s not always the Holy Spirit it could be you know any kind any number of things you know our own spirit is is incredibly powerful yeah I mean we have to not set not doubt the fact that my own heart and my own mind and my own spirit can lead me in a certain direction and I can fool myself into thinking that that’s the work of God leading me in that direction would really it’s my own or like you said the spirit of the age we get we get caught up and I mean it’s a great example social media has really helped us to see what happens when you might call it a herd mentality you know when when everybody is sort of moving in a certain direction and we get caught up in those movements and where everybody’s posting about something or talking about something or moving in a certain direction and we can get caught up in that and I think that is a spirit of an age and we get caught up in those movements and and we can ascribe that to the Spirit of God is well I just feel like God is moving me in this direction we got a like you said test these spirits and say is is it God that’s moving me in this direction or is it or is it the the spirit of the age of the Spirit of the world or even Satan or I mean I truly believe that you know there are forces of darkness and evil that are that are at work in the world and we have to test them and scripture gives us plenty of tests James talks about you know wisdom that is from above versus wisdom that is from below and so we we have to test and say am i looking at this with eyes that Jesus has given me or the eyes that my my culture has given me that I’ve given myself am I really seeing this with my eyes wide open spiritually speaking yeah I love your emphasis on how the work of the Spirit is tied to truth because you know when I did my own study of the Holy Spirit a couple years ago you know I was amazed at how it is the work of the Spirit is tied to the Word of God and providing us with word of God and you know to me I think sometimes you know you hear people talking about the work of the Spirit and it’s not tied very closely to the Word of God and to me you know those two are not going to contradict themselves because they came they come from the same source you know and so the Spirit is not going to lead you in any way to contradict what the Word of God says yeah we we’ve got to understand that that the church needs the work of the Apostles the Apostles may be dead but but though they’re dead yet they speak and so we’ve got to understand that that these these writings by the apostles and the prophets and evangelists before them and you know all of these writers of Scripture as Peter says they were carried along by the Holy Spirit and so their work continues to be their teaching their writing continues to be the foundation of what we know and what we believe and what we we hold to and where our hope is anchored and if what we we feel like we’re being moved to and again feel you know I mean we could talk about feel versus think versus whatever you know human beings were complex you know I don’t I don’t ever you know sit down to the tape people and say well I feel like I need a piece of pie or I think I need a piece of pie what is it is my brain or is it my heart you know I mean I don’t think we can dissect ourselves that way and so when we when we perceive that there’s something we should do or something that we shouldn’t do and we’re asking ourselves is this is God moving me in this direction or am i moving myself in this direction that we have to go back and search diligently in the scriptures because this is where this is where we find what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus none of us would have any idea what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus if not for the Scriptures and so if what we’re doing and teaching and believing and how we’re acting if it doesn’t match up with the teachings of Jesus and His apostles then then we’re off base we have to be out phase because the only way we know the gospel truth is through the scriptures that have been written for us yeah yeah well hey thanks a lot lots of great information and I’m sure it’s gonna bless many people before we go though won’t you tell everyone how to find your work you know what’s your blog how to find you on Facebook things like that cool yeah radically Christian calm is the blog and you can find the podcast there it probably links to to Facebook and everything else so it’s it’s radically Christian and I got a podcast called crosstalk but again you can find it on radical Christian comm okay well thanks a lot Wes thank you

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