Sunday, October 14, 2007

When Were You Last Filled with the Holy Spirit?

I have decided that I am not very subtle when I enthusiastic about someone! Anyone who's been following the blogs for a while will know that I am benefiting hugely from Rob Rufus's teaching and ministry at the moment! But the Bible does talk about proving all things - being overly cautious and cynical is just as wrong and dangerous as accepting teaching without question at all. I have been re-reading Gordon Fee's marvellous "God's Empowering Presence" in preparation for my trip to Hong Kong and was excited to read his exposition on 2 Corinthians 3. Fee's exposition sounds remarkably Rufus-like!!

Fee starts off by writing;

"Paul begins with a contrast between the respective ministries of the two Covenants with "glory" appearing as the dominant motif".

Glory!! Since encountering Rob Rufus at "Together on a Misson 2006" I must confess my concept of the word "glory" was limited to heaven. How wrong can I be?! Fee goes on to write about the Old Covenant glory;

"It was a glory that could not be seen by the original recipients and was in any case intended to fade away".

I have fallen into the trip before that I believe other Christians have also followed in struggling to come to terms with the Scriptural promise that the New Covenant glory is FAR more glorious than the Old! My relationship with the Holy Spirit is so feeble that I have looked back into history at the Israelites who could see the cloud of glory and have been jealous of them. This is un-Scriptural. Gordon Fee (like Rob Rufus) makes the direct connection between the glory of the New Covenant and the Holy Spirit;

"The glory of the New Covenant continues because it is of the Spirit".

This is why the Holy Spirit is not an optional extra! We must - like Kathryn Kuhlman - get to know Him and get to learn how He talks, moves and works. But above all Gordon Fee - like Rob Rufus - emphasises that the Holy Spirit brings a vital element of freedom to us - the New Covenant believers.

"Thus the Spirit brings freedom, the kind of freedom, that allows God's new covenant people to be, as Moses was, in God's very Presence and there to behold the glory of God".

It is wrong to excuse the lack of God's manifest Presence and develop a theology of His omni-presence as that reason for why He is not manifesting Himself! The whole object of the New Covenant is that the veil has been torn in two and we can "walk boldly into the throne room of heaven!". Yes indeed Jesus has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us - but we cannot deny that throughout the Bible there is a distinct difference between God's ominpresence and His manifest Presence. Let us cry like the prophets; "Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down!".

Finally in the footnote Gordon Fee goes on to make an important note;

"Paul's point throughout remains singular; for the Corinthians now to pick up the Law is to retrogress - in this case to be like the very people who still have veils over their hearts because they lack the freedom of the Spirit".

Again pure-Rufus! Paul does not react to the Corinthian's excess by bringing them back into Law! To make such a transition is to "retrogress". Lacking the freedom of the Spirit is to have a veil over their hearts. We must resist the grace-hating spirits at all costs and ensure that the Holy Spirit has complete freedom to come and do what He will when He will in our churches!

It occured to me after reading this chapter in "God's Empowering Presence" - until we can truly believe 2 Corinthians 3:1-4 - that being in the New Covenant truly IS more glorious than the Old then surely we will to a degree always be stuck in Old Covenant mentality and practice and action. And that's not a good thing. Let's get believing the Bible and encountering the Holy Spirit!

So to my original question! Gordon Fee writes of being filled with the Holy Spirit;

"On Ephesians 5:18; Here then is the ultimate imperative in the Pauline corpus - God's people so filled by/with the Spirit's own Presence that they come to know God in all His fullness and reflect the way they live in relationship to one another and God Himself".

As Rob Rufus said there is much MUCH more to being filled with the Holy Spirit than simply being a "half empty cup needing to be filled up to full". The filling of the Holy Spirit means that we can come to know God in all His fullness - His Presence - His glory. When were we last filled with the Spirit!? When did we last allow our sails of faith to be stretched out fully and to feel the wind of the Spirit fill us and take us to places we have never dreamt of!? We don't have to be particularly "holy" or "righteous" to receive Him. As Rob Rufus said - God is looking for yielded vessels not perfect vessels.

Come Holy Spirit!

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