Holy Spirit & Lenten Prayers

Holy Spirit & Lenten Prayers

• Lenten Prayers tomorrow (6:30 a.m. In the sanctuary) which we observe not to “get” something from them, but that we might make better use of Lent for meditating on the Lord’s death and resurrection. Come, join us in pursuing wisdom and focus.

• My early years in the faith included a number of remarkable answers to prayer and a profound experience of what could be called a “ fullness” or “satisfaction” in my heart or “inner man.” Naturally I was drawn to churches and believers whose experience in the faith was parallel to mine, and I had an arrogant tendency to think of those without similar experiences as spiritually dead.

• But with time it became clear the “experiential” churches were generally not characterized by clear and consistent biblical thinking, or what Paul would call “sound doctrine” (2 Tim 4:3). Christian “truth” tended to be grounded in experiences rather than the teachings of Scripture. People were inclined to think that if your heart was in the right place, it didn’t matter what you thought. Feelings, impulses and intuition ruled the day.

• So, my first six months in a PCA church were refreshing, insofar as the people were alive spiritually and the teaching was sound and biblically consistent. But you may have picked up on the fact that I now believe the current state of our theological tradition diminishes the work of the Holy Spirit unnecessarily. This is not so much true of the Westminster Confession as it is of current theological habits which, ironically, seem more enamored of scientific methods than our own traditions of meditation — think of Ps. 1: “I mediate [on your law] day and night;” or 2 Tim 2:7: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything;” or Php 4:8 and the word sometimes translated “think” but also “meditate,” and is technically “reckon” or “consider.”

• In fact, the Confession says something remarkable about the Spirit: while section I.IV states that Scripture depends on God alone for its authority, section I.V says the reason we are convinced this is true is by the “inward work” of the Holy Spirit “bearing witness” in our hearts. John Owen makes a good point about this, saying if this were not so, then the best readers of Scripture would be the best literary critics, or the best linguistic scholars. Instead, Owen says, our accuracy as interpreters of Scripture is wholly dependent on the presence of the Holy Spirit, working in and through us.

• So let me pass on to you the counsel of Richard Sibbes, the English Puritan who wrote extensively on the Spirit: “Let us lay ourselves open to the Spirit’s touch. When the Spirit has ruling sway in our lives he fine-tunes our souls much like a musical instrument, and then he plays our lives as a piano concerto before God.”