Sacrilege, Heresy ! Surely reading the word always helps. Alas No, not if one is depressed, or lost, or questioning things to an extent that reading the word just makes things worse. In such cases we must turn back to the Holy Spirit. Recently I was in such a position, where I had another of my dark night of the soul moments. Reading the word, talking to people, nothing helped. Ultimately, I had to turn to God, not through a book, and I had to wait for him. Just wait. As I write this I realize that I’m defensive, expecting to have to defend myself, yet the word of God says something slightly different.
7Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
It’s better that Jesus dies. This is an incredible statement, it’s better for us because the Holy Spirit will come into our lives. At Easter when we celebrate the resurrection, is the Holy Spirit mentioned, I doubt it. No, we continue to live in the word, and this isn’t a bad thing providing we remember that the word on it’s own will not bring life, we need something extra, we need the Holy Spirit, we need a dependence upon him.
The word itself, in a book form does not give life without the Holy Spirit. On it’s own, it’s no different from Harry Potter, it’s the Holy Spirit that changes things. To a non believer it’s just another book, a story, a myth of how the world came into being. A myth that conflicts with Science and knowledge. Jesus had more to say about the Holy Spirit..
12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes,he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
As we look to the book for everything, we miss out on what Jesus said. He never said I’m going to send you a book, Paul never said that either. No, Jesus says it’s better that he dies so the Holy Spirit will come. He doesn’t say, it’s better that I die so a book can be written, which will then replace the Holy Spirit. Yet replacing the Holy Spirit with a book appears to be what we have done. The era of knowledge prevails over anything esoteric, over anything that we can’t understand, and yes, there are things in the Bible we don’t understand.
Unfortunately the Charismatics, with their over the top, and at times ludicrous ideas as to what constitutes being filled with the Holy Spirit, means most find it hard to believe in a Holy Spirit that sends people barking like dogs, or laughing and writhing along the ground, or falling over when a pastor waves his hands. Movements of the holy spirit over the past 40 years have become more and more extreme, as though they are trying to compete with television and movies to get our attention. As the late Leonard Ravenhill said, you never need an introduction to a fire, you never need directions. If there’s a fire, people find it, and if there’s a movement of the Holy spirit, people will find it. There’s no need for the Holy Spirit to work in outrageous ways that defy belief.
Sadly we seem to have replaced the Holy Spirit with a book. Instead of having the Word and the Holy Spirit, people are content to have the word, and the word alone. Contentment kills, but that’s a story for another day.
And so I leave you with A.W Tozer, who said, that if the Holy Spirit were to leave Churches, or leave this earth today, well most of them would get along just fine, most wouldn’t even notice a change.