Many years ago, I established the three foundational principles of our local church as:
- The authority of the Bible,
- the centrality of Jesus Christ, and,
- dependence on the Holy Spirit.
In this article I want to focus on just the third of these principles, which reads;
‘We believe that we are to trust and obey God the Holy Spirit, embrace all that the Scriptures reveal of Him and His ministry, and rely on His empowerment for life and ministry.’
To depend on the Holy Spirit is to look to Him to reveal Jesus to us in and through the medium of inspired scripture. It also includes an expectation that He will communicate with us ‘prophetically’, within the bounds of biblical truth. We expect Him to guide and instruct us specifically, when He chooses to do so, where scripture provides only general principle or precedent.
If we truly depend on the Holy Spirit then we will accept our inability, apart from His anointing, and be willing to seek and receive His empowerment.
This empowerment is:
- Firstly, to enable us to live Jesus-manifesting lives in terms of our witness, values, priorities and general life-styles. Galatians chapter 5 describes these attributes as the Fruit of the Spirit.However, the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is also to
- Enable us to minister to others, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in a Jesus-manifesting way. Paul describes these supernatural endowments as Gifts of the Spirit.
Our dependence on The Spirit is not either for daily life or for spiritual ministry, but for both – fruit and Gifts.
Historically, conservative Protestants have tended to major on the Fruit while Pentecostals and Charismatics have majored on the Gifts. Both of these positions display only a partial dependence on the Holy Spirit, while full dependence demands reliance on His empowerment for both life and ministry, fruit and gifts.
To end where I started, I want to point out that we should not attempt to separate the three foundational principles from one another. We need to understand and practice ‘Spirit-dependant’ within the context of ‘Bible-based’ and ‘Christ-centred’. The Bible does not prescribe the Holy Spirit’s work, but our understanding and application of His ministry certainly should be. We have a limited ability to comprehend the human inbuilt bias towards self-serving manipulation. Therefore, we need to be informed and limited by the scriptural revelation. It is not that we do not trust the Holy Spirit, but rather that we should have a healthy awareness of our own limitations.
Similarly, the Holy Spirit constantly points us to Jesus and a focus on His life and ministry will surely keep us both Bible-based and Spirit-dependant. The Bible reveals Jesus to us and we encounter and come to know Him primarily in and through the scriptures. Yet, the Holy Spirit illuminates and reveals Jesus, the Living Word to us through the Bible, the Written Word.
Bible-based, Christ-centred, and Spirit-dependent form a concise condensation of the foundational principles on which the church and our individual lives stand.