This century has been called, by theologians, the century of the Holy Spirit. The ordinary man and woman in the street would probably wonder what on earth they meant, because the whole subject of God, the Holy Spirit, strikes them (if at all) as one massive mystery. You can’t wonder really because different churches speak with so many different voices about the Holy Spirit. Some seem to be claiming about their church:
‘Miracles happen here every week’
‘Throw away your crutches and walk in the Spirit’
Others say: ‘Nonsense, the Holy Spirit moves chiefly through our sacraments. If our hands have not touched your child, he may be lost to God …’
Others say: ‘The signs of the Holy Spirit were only for the 1st Century and stopped after Apostolic times – modern signs and wonders are to be explained by psychology’, and so on. Some say it’s just a name for your conscience!
One dominant question, from millions of ordinary people, is simply this: ‘Can you tell us about all things spiritual?’ There is a vast market out there asking this question. The snag is they want it in tiny sound bytes, and all things spiritual won’t fit into such verbal straight-jackets.
It is not a new question, by the way. Just a few years after the life and death and resurrection of Jesus, Greek Christians at Corinth wrote to Paul asking him this very question. In fact his answers we will look at over the next few days. Here is the starting point:
“Now concerning the matters you wrote to me about” Paul said in I Corinthians Chapter 7 v.1, and he dealt with their primary problem area and it was, of course, sex and the Christian. Other matters were in turn answered, then he came to this one which they asked him-I Corinthians Chapter 12 v. 1:Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.
The actual word Paul used was not the word ‘charismata’ – spiritual gifts, but ‘pneumatikoi’ – all things spiritual.
Lord, enliven and educate my spirit by your Holy Spirit, I pray.
Now read Isaiah Chapter 61 and see the breadth of God’s anointing spirit.