I had a good conversation through Skype today with Tim Smith, worship pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I met Tim a couple years ago, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to interact with him on various topics related to worship and the church.
Today one of the areas we touched on was the difference between being “charismatics with a seatbelt” and “philosophical charismatics.” The first phrase describes an attempt to exercise the more spontaneous gifts of the Spirit in a responsible way that exalts Christ and builds up the church. The second phrase describes those whose public meetings aren’t much different from those who deny that all the gifts have continued to the present day.
It’s easy to claim that we believe the Holy Spirit is working in people’s hearts during our meetings, but fail to experience or expect any evidence of it. Tim made the point that while lists and planning aren’t bad, they become bad if seek to justify our ministries by them. If we’re successful, we have no need for God. If we fail, we live in fear and condemnation. I’ve found that to be true. We need to plan with dependence on the Holy Spirit, but not depend ultimately on our plans.
We also talked about how the Holy Spirit never seeks to draw attention to gifts or experiences, but rather to Jesus Christ, the risen Savior. That’s in line with what Jesus says in John 16:14: “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
I’ve found a number of books helpful for helping me understand the Holy Spirit’s role in our meetings and stirring up my desire to anticipate the active presence of God when we meet. Tim and I talked about them, and I thought others might be interested as well.
Showing the Spirit – D.A. Carson (theological exposition of 1 Cor. 12-14)
God’s Empowering Presence - Gordon Fee (long but thorough treatment of all the times Paul refers to the Spirit in the New Testament)
Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God – Fee (contains portions of God’s Empowering Presence)
The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today – Wayne Grudem (helpful treatment of the spiritual gift of prophecy)
Surprised by the Power of the Spirit – Jack Deere (one man’s testimony of how he became a continuationist)
The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts – Max Turner (more on the academic side, but thorough)
The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts – Sam Storms (simple and practical guide to growing in the nine spiritual gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12)
Two books on the Holy Spirit, written from a cessationist perspective, are also worth checking out:
If you’re interested, Sovereign Grace also has a number of messages on the Holy Spirit we’ve given at various conferences. A few are listed below:
The Power: Understanding and Experiencing the Holy Spirit – Jeff Purswell
The Non-Spectacular Gifts – Jeff Purswell
The Contours of our Charismatic Theology – Jeff Purswell
Eagerly Desiring Spiritual Gifts – Aron Osborne
More Desirable Than Gifts – CJ Mahaney
The Pastor and the Spirit – Jeff Purswell
Pursuing God’s Presence – Bob Kauflin