By Brock Bondurant
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good.
I confess that for most of my life since coming to know Jesus, I denied the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. While I might have professed that He existed, I did not walk that out. I think I would’ve fallen into the same camp as 59% of professing Christians in the U.S. that believed the Holy Spirit to be a force to be wielded rather than a Person to know (Star Wars anyone?). I repent for grieving the Spirit for so long and question how I could even attempt to walk with Jesus without the filling of the Spirit – said another way: without living in communion with the God who indwells me. I look back and see all the ways I have quenched the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19), grieved the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), and offended Him.
If I were one of the twelve with Jesus during his earthly ministry, I think I would not have believed him when he said, “it is to your advantage that I go away [and] send [the Holy Spirit] to you” (John 16:7). How could that be better, Lord? ‘Just wait and see’, I picture Jesus saying with a wry smile.
It is only by this indwelling Spirit that following Jesus is even possible. The Holy Spirit is our access to relationship with Jesus, who is our access to relationship with the Father. The Spirit moved in to put our faith in Jesus. It is the Spirit that sends us out in power to fulfill the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-18, Matt. 28:18-20) according to Acts 1:4-8 when Jesus says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses… to the end of the earth.”
We quench the Spirit when we deny not only his presence, but his power when we, as the Church, don’t walk in the things Jesus commissioned his disciples to walk in (Luke 10:1-12). Jesus himself said we would do greater works than he did (John 14:12). The works of Jesus are acts of mercy, proclaiming the Kingdom (sharing the Gospel), teaching the way (making disciples), healing the sick, casting out demons, and interceding in prayer, just to name a few. The Spirit is grieved when we debate over what Jesus meant by “greater”. Whatever you think he meant by “greater”, he most obviously did not mean that we would do ‘lesser’ and ‘fewer’ works than he did. No; following his departure to Heaven Jesus meant for us to continue his ministry on Earth as we await his soon return. If Holy Spirit works the ministry of Christ in and through us, then when Jesus kicked off his own ministry (Luke 4:14-21) he continues the accomplishment of Isaiah 61 through us – imperfect vessels as we are, though created in his image and empowered by his indwelt presence.
When Jesus breathed on his disciples saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22) he breathed the same Spirit, the Ruah (Hebrew), present at creation (Genesis 1:2) onto them – the breath that filled the lungs of Adam (Gen 2:7). This Spirit that created is the Spirit that recreates through Jesus and moves in power among those who receive and believe. This Spirit is inside you who believe!
Those who have believed in and received Jesus are now members of his body (1 Corinthians 12:27) sent out to do his works. It is the Spirit who equips us with gifts (1 Cor 12:4-11), empowering us to bring peace, hope, and love unto everyone we encounter. Thereby we expand the Kingdom as is the Father’s will.
I bring up all of this to remind myself not to forget about the Third Person of the Trinity because he is a person to know, to experience. I have quenched the Spirit for far too long in my life. I have despised not only prophecy, but also the gifts and ministries of those who have moved into the things that I didn’t understand. I failed to test these things, to discern; failed to cling to the good and abhor the evil. I have grieved the Spirit every time I’ve turned down an opportunity to share the Gospel, to love and care for others in the way of Jesus, and give Holy Spirit credit for the great works he does. I’ve written off those who were healed, denied the miraculous, labeled “charismatic” movements as crazy and out of bounds.
I repent for that. I will gladly accept the Spirit that moved in Jesus; the Spirit he bestowed upon me as a disciple; as his apprentice. The Holy Spirit is a fire not to be quenched. Come and burn.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me…