Posted by Tyler Conrad | | Posted On Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 3:00 PM
The first chapter of ‘Forgotten God,’ was packed with things to get us thinking about what the Holy Spirit is and its role in our lives. Francis Chan makes it clear that the goal of this book is not to fully explain the Spirit, since it is impossible for us finite humans to completely understand an infinite God. The Holy Spirit is mysterious, which leaves behind a wake of interesting (and sometimes headache-inducing) conversations. The second goal is to push you out of your comfort zone and facilitate experiential knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s presence, rather than simply gaining more ‘head knowledge’ about it. The third goal is to open your eyes to the world around you and realize how the Holy Spirit is working TODAY, in our time and culture. Francis Chan gave some good advice to keep in mind as we go through this study:
1) BE TRANSPARENT AND SPEAK UP. Given the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit, it is no surprise that many questions will come up…some may have answers, some may not. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Much of the learning in this study will hopefully happen outside of our small group. It is going to be when you go to work, home, or the grocery store and you begin to notice the Holy Spirit nudging you in different ways. Keep track of those moments and be willing to share them at our meetings.
2) DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING. Try to come to this study with an open-mind, and don’t assume that you know everything (or nothing) about the Holy Spirit. Be open to change and the prospect that God might move your heart in big ways and completely change your view of the world during this study. Don’t assume that we will finish this study…the Holy Spirit may guide us to do something else during these 7-weeks, and we should be open to that.
Church Gone Wrong?!?
It seems that most people would agree that something isn’t quite clicking in the church institution (building) today. Everyone has different opinions on what needs to change and how we need to change it. Francis suggests that many of the problems that we see in our church buildings today are a result of our neglect of the Holy Spirit.
REthink the Holy Spirit
For those of us who have been immersed in the church culture for years, it is important to step away from our preconceived notions and start with a fresh perspective on the Holy Spirit. In order to do that, we have to look at what scripture says about the Spirit. At our meeting we focused on John 14 and John 16:5-16, but I encourage you to spend some time with all these passages. As you read these passages, imagine that you are on a deserted island. You don’t know who you are (going Bourne Identity on you here)…you have no memories, no church experience, no knowledge of the Bible, nothing. Imagine what you would think after reading the Bible for the first time…from Genesis to Revelation, and then coming back to our culture and churches. Here are the passages to look through:
John 14 / 16:5-16
Acts 1:4-8 / 2:1-13 / 4:31
Romans 8:1-17 / 8:26-27 / 15:13
1 Corinthians 2:12-14 / 3:16 / 6:9-11 / 6:19-20 / 12:7-11 (THINK: Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit…do you think it is hard to tell the difference between a believer and non-believer in today’s world? Why?
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Galatians 4:4-7 / 5:16-25 (THINK: Galatians 5:16- Perhaps we’ve gotten so caught up in trying to live the Christian life on our own, that we have overlooked the source. Life-change comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.)
1 John 4:13
Where does the Holy Spirit fit into the whole story of the Bible? Why do you think that so many people have so little knowledge of the Holy Spirit when it is such a critical aspect of the story? As you start to dig into scripture about the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to do a little experiment. Start asking some people around you what the Holy Spirit is. See how much confusion you can find on this critical aspect of our faith that seems to have been neglected and forgotten about somewhere along the way. Go through scripture with those people and talk about what you are learning.
It is for your good…
Why did Jesus tell his disciples that it would be good for them for him to leave (John 16:7)? Think of their confusion at this point…Jesus was their teacher and leader, and they had left everything behind to follow him…why would it be good? In John 14:15-20, Jesus promises his disciples that once he leaves, he will send back the Spirit of Truth to live and dwell in them. Isn’t that a crazy thought? Jesus explains in John 14:20, that God’s Spirit lived inside of Him (He was the embodiment of God’s truth), and once he left, He would send that same Spirit to live inside of us…convicting us of sin, guiding us, comforting us!!! As Francis puts it, “Right now, imagine what it would be like to have Christ standing beside you in the flesh, functioning as your personal Counselor. Imagine the peace that would come from knowing you would always receive perfect truth and flawless direction from Him…Yet why do we assume that this would be any better than the literal presence of the Holy Spirit?” (p. 34). Take time to let that idea sink in...it is incredible. :o)
As we continue on in this study, I encourage you spend a lot of time in prayer and God’s word, and make sure that this stuff is sinking in and actually changing the way you live. If it is only head knowledge, it does no good. As Francis suggested, there are many things right in front of our face that God may be calling us to do and has given us the resources to do it- all we have to do is listen and do it! :o) I hope that you can slow down this week and take time to notice how the Spirit is working in your life and in those around you. I’m looking forward to hearing stories!