The third Person of the Trinity is severely abused and blasphemed within evangelicalism—and within circles that should not be considered evangelical at all. It was John MacArthur who once lamented the abuse of the Holy Spirit by saying:
The Holy Spirit is the most forgotten, the most misrepresented, the most dishonored, the most grieved, the most abused, and the most blasphemed member of the Trinity.1John MacArthur, Sermon: The Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
Within the world of the cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the deity of the Holy Spirit is openly denied and relegated to the level of a mere force. Sadly, beyond the mainstream cults, we find that the Holy Spirit is abused within the charismatic circles. They teach that the Holy Spirit causes them to behave in an uncontrolled manner through strange and reckless acts and unintelligible gibberish. These acts include:
- Modern Tongues Movement
- False Prophecy
- Visions & Dreams
- Heavenly Tourism
- False Miracles
- Unbiblical Worship
For many people, the evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church is based upon a lively worship experience that is exciting, fun, and emotionally stirring. However, what should we be looking for as evidence of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of a local church?
Engagement of the Spiritual Gifts
God gifts his church with spiritual gifts. Each member of the local church is vitally important and we should approach the life of the church with this mindset. Consider your local church for a moment. Every aspect of your church’s functionality from the preparation of the campus to the worship of God’s people all involves engagement from the membership of the church. Each gift operating in unison matters.
When we read Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, we find that he employs a metaphor of the human body to illustrate the importance of the entire church body in a local sense. Everyone in the church should take their part and use their gifts for the glory of God. When churches adopt the mindset that they merely come to observe or to watch what happens in the life of the church—it places all of the functionality upon a small percentage of the membership. This not only creates undue stress in the life of the church—it leads to consumerism.
The Holy Spirit provides us with spiritual gifts to use for the glory of God. Some gifts have ceased, but not all gifts have ceased. The gifts associated with the apostles (miracles, wonders, and signs) which included the ability to heal, speak in tongues, or speak a direct prophetic word from God have all ceased. It should be noted that the gift of the Apostle has likewise ceased. God the Spirit continues to gift the church and we must intentionally employ our gifts within the life of the local church in order to build the church up in love (Eph 4).
Unity of the Spirit
Paul speaks about the fellowship of the Spirit in his closing greeting to the church at Corinth. The word fellowship is the Greek term κοινωνία and it’s used in Acts 2 as Luke describes the early church immediately after the 3,000 people were born again and baptized as followers of Christ. This word means, “close association involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, fellowship, close relationship, marked by intimacy.” True Christian fellowship transcends shallow greetings and general associations.
The fellowship of the Spirit produces fellowship among God’s people. Such genuine Christian fellowship results in unity within the church family. When the local church truly grasps what biblical fellowship looks like—it prevents isolationism, division, fractures, and splits. In Ephesians, Paul directs the church to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3-6).
Satan loves disunity and directs the church to move in the opposite direction of the fellowship of the Spirit. Anytime you see a church divided always remember it’s not the fellowship of the Spirit that produced the division. The local church gathered together should be a people who serve, worship, love, evangelize, pray, assist, labor, break bread, and live life together for the glory of God as they are directed by the fellowship of the Spirit.
The Fellowship of the Spirit will produce in the hearts of God’s people an awareness of the depth of salvation. Far too often the doctrine of salvation is approached through the lens of Jesus’ work on the cross alone. While we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone—Jesus as the second Person of the Godhead did not work alone in saving sinners. It’s unbiblical and impossible to segment Jesus and disconnect his work from the operative acts of the Trinity. In other words, sinners are saved by a Trinitarian God who operated before time and during time to bring about the salvation of rebel sinners.
The Holy Spirit is God. It should be noted that in the study of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is no less God than the Father or the Son. As a member of the Godhead, he is co-equal and co-eternal. In other words, there has never been a time when the Holy Spirit did not exist. Throughout the Bible we see various titles for the Holy Spirit:
- Spirit of God
- Spirit of Christ
- Spirit of Grace
- Spirit of the Lord
- Spirit of Life
- Spirit of Truth
- Eternal Spirit
- The Holy Spirit
- The Spirit
As we worship God in our homes in family worship, in private devotion, and gathered together for corporate worship with the local church—we do so with a spirit of adoration to all three Persons of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit. The Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-4). The Son was sent to accomplish our redemption through both his passive and active obedience in his life and sacrificial death. It is by his wounds that we are healed (1 Pet 2:24) and through his blood that all of our sins are atoned for in fulfillment of holy justice (Rom 5:9; 1 John 2:1-2).
The Spirit of God directs us to the Son of God and places emphasis upon the Son. Church worship services that have a hyper-focus upon the Spirit ignore the reality that one of the priorities of the Spirit’s ministry is to direct us toward the Son—the Christ of God.
May the fellowship of the Holy Spirit bring you great encouragement as you continue to journey onward in the faith. As Paul closed his second letter to the church at Corinth, let us read these words and praise our Trinitarian God for his saving work that results in a life of peace, fellowship among the church, and obedience of faith. The fellowship of the Spirit does not lead to chaos, division, or disorganization. The fellowship of the Spirit leads to unity, love, order, and peace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14).