All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others jeered at the speakers, saying, “They are drunk on new wine!”
I work at a church, so my wife and I often have front row seats to some interesting spiritual ‘stuff’ – for lack of a better word.
The Holy Spirit, what he* does, when he does it, etc. is a tricky subject, and it’s easy to step on toes. Everyone’s particular opinions tend to be a mix of what they grew up with, what they’ve been taught, and what they’ve personally experienced. I tend to be much more operative out of what I’ve been taught, and to be honest what I’ve experienced (in terms of the miraculous) have been somewhat limited. I’m also a skeptic by nature, I don’t believe things right away, and it can be a fault. I probably have missed out on countless miracles as I searched for a rational explanation. Ultimately I came back to God because there were things happening around me that I couldn’t explain anymore without Him.
In any event, there was something that happened at church last week that sort of challenged some of the ‘boxes’ I had put the Holy Spirit into. And in the process of praying and thinking through the experience afterwards I came to a conclusion: I don’t really know how you’re supposed to determine whether or not something is from the Holy Spirit or not.
Do I just go on how it feels? Seems dangerous.
The exec. Pastor that oversees me and has been mentoring me a bit shares this quote often, not sure if it’s his or not, “One of the most dangerous thing about being human is you can always choose to interpret data a different way”.
Seems to apply to ‘spiritual’ events as well.
So I started thinking I needed to establish some criteria on how I sort of filter these sorts of things in the odd circumstances, but also in the everyday. Like when someone tells me the church should be doing a certain program, is that from the Spirit? or just someone’s opinion?
I came up with these three things, you might have a few more, and these might change for me over time, but it’s a starting point for me:
Where’s the fruit? (Matt 7:16, Luke 6:44, Matt. 7:20 etc.)
Does it bring Glory and Honor to Jesus? (1 Cor. 10:31)
Is it done out of love? (John 13:35)
Again, not an exhaustive list, and certainly room for interpretation, but these are my three quick checks. If it doesn’t pass these three, chances are it’s not a work of the Spirit.
Is the message, prophecy, tongues, etc. done out of love for another? Is there other fruit in this person’s life or ministry to back up this message? Does it bring glory to Jesus? That’s where I start.
And if applied to the following passages in Acts, we see Peter preach boldly, thousands get saved, glory given to God, and ongoing fruit in the lives of the disciples. I never want to miss out on what the Spirit of God is doing in the midst of his people today, but I want to remain sound in what I affirm and live by. There were many people in Acts who missed out on God’s goodness because they couldn’t believe what was happening through God’s Spirit poured out on men (Gentiles nonetheless!)
Lord would you allow my walk with you to become so close, that I would constantly bring you glory, love others, and bear fruit as I obey your statutes? Lord allow me the gift of repentance for the times I’ve missed out on your Spirit’s work in the world, open my eyes to see your glory in the midst of your people.