To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category

We Need The Spirit

We so easily make statements that we agree with others upon. But in the agreeing on the statements there may be complete disagreement on what the statement means. In church we will often hear statements along the lines that “we need more of the Spirit in the church”. A statement that pretty well everyone will agree with. But in agreeing with the statement there may be understandings which are very diverse. Let us explore some of the pertinent issues here.

When dealing with the issue of prayer in Luke 11 our Lord says this: And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[d] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)

The punchline to this teaching from our Lord is that the best that we can get from our Lord is the Holy Spirit. The best that our churches can have is the Holy Spirit. This is because when the Holy Spirit comes we will be knowing God and His Son.

Our Lord said in John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. We need to know Christ in our churches and so we need the Holy Spirit. A Holy Spirit less church is a Christ-less church.

The Holy Spirit also leads us into the Word. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13). The Book of God lies as a dormant book until the Holy Spirit brings it alive.

So we need the Holy Spirit to have Christ and the Word in our churches. Let us be passionate then in crying for the Holy Spirit to be upon us. And as we are at our praying we will be anticipating much that is big from the Spirit in our churches.

By The Holy Spirit

By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. These are Pauls’ words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:14. In the context they refer to the need to be good custodians of the faith once delivered to the saints (see Jude 1:3). We are to watch over the truth of God like security guards guarding vaults of gold bullion. This is a task that God has called all believers to, but especially those, like Timothy, who hold a position of responsibility in the church.

What is striking about the injunction though is the fact that this responsibility can only be carried out by the Holy Spirit. This is that precious Holy Spirit who has residence within every true believer in Jesus Christ. This special gift is also the essential enabler of all that we do for God. To rely on ourselves for the requisite strength to undertake the works and service that the LORD calls us to, is a recipe for failure. Timothy can only keep this deposit of truth if he relies on the Holy Spirit.

This is true not only for Timothy, but for all of us. Moreover, it is true not only for guarding the good deposit, but for any task we are called to by God. To speak of a  self-dependent servant of the Lord is an oxymoron. A true servant of the Lord is always fully dependant upon the Lord. Every time I engage in any activity for the Lord I should stop and ask: am I relying on the Holy Spirit in doing this.

I suggest, though, that this can go further into all aspects of living for God. Anything and everything, whether of the most menial or major tasks, should be undertaken in Holy Spirit dependency. Which raises the question: how can I know I am depending on the Holy Spirit? To which I offer the reply, it is through:

  • Prayer. Seeking the Lord for the task in hand.
  • Asking. Actually saying to the Holy Spirit; I need your help.
  • The Word. If we are not acting in live with the precepts and principles of the Word then we will not have the Holy Spirit with us.
  • Fellowship. Sharing with others about what you are doing, having them pray for you, receiving their rebukes and counsel are all helpful. Through these means we will be being pushed into the Holy Spirit’s way.

Whatever Happened To Unction?

I am talking here about that special empowering that comes upon someone as they preach the Word of the Lord. It seem that it is something that has gone completely off our radar in terms of our understanding of homiletics.

We should be very glad to know that there are so many nowadays in the UK, who are faithfully preaching the Word of God. There is a diligence in the examination of the text and conveying its meaning to the congregation. There is a desire to make the message understandable to the people. Illustrations are effectively used; application is worked on and is very often most helpful and challenging.

However, I am left wondering if there is a missing ingredient and that is “unction”. This is the special sense of the Spirit of The Lord coming upon the preacher and the Word. Preaching is to bring, not just an unveiling of the Word, but of God Himself.

The fact that this does not generally appear to be happening is most concerning, but more concerning is the lack of expectation of it happening. The experience of the Thessalonians does not seem to accord with our experience. We read of them: because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction (1 Thess. 1:5). Where is the power, the Holy Spirit and the full conviction among us today? But, more concerning where is the expectation of these phenomena?

There is so much that has happened in evangelical circles over the last fifty years to mean that there is accuracy, clarity and application in preaching, but there has been little focus on this issue.

So when I hear preaching the first three issues are there, but I am left wondering about the unction. Now, it may well be that the problem is with my lack of spirituality. As a result of that I don’t discern that the Spirit is working. I accept that could be the case. But I am still left wondering. I was attending a church last month and listened to a fine message which had accuracy, illustration and application, but I was set to think about this whole issue of unction; there seemed to be a lack.

I want to make clear that I do not believe that unction is necessarily revealed through loud, demonstrative performance in preaching. It can be, but not necessarily. It is that special sense of God as the Holy Spirit comes upon the preacher and the Word preached

So can I ask for some consideration of this issue. But more than consideration can we start to yearn for this anointing on the preaching. In the end we cannot strategize for this, but we can passionately cry out to the Lord for this. So as I write I am challenged to cry to the Lord for my planned preaching of the Word tomorrow that there might be a sense of God as the Word is preached. Can I challenge you, whether you be preacher or congregant to be praying to that end as well.


Impossibilities And The Holy Spirit

In Luke 1 Mary is given a declaration, from the Lord through Gabriel, that she will be the one to give birth to the Christ. Given her virgin status she knows, and all heaven knows, that this is an impossibility according to natural means. And so we get this interaction between the angel and Mary.

The key statement of Gabriel is: The Holy Spirit will come (Lk. 1:35b). The problem of how the impossible can be achieved is always: the Holy Spirit will come. How vital it is for us to know and implement this truth. The Holy Spirit is the means by which someone comes to faith in Christ and continues believing in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the achiever of the translation of a believer to glory. The Holy Spirit is the One who makes the Church and He is the One who sustains us as communities of grace.

When we survey the desolation of our situation whether that be personally or in the community in which we live then all is hopeless. Natural schemes and initiatives will not remedy the predicament. It is only “The Holy Spirit will come” which gives us hope.

As we continue on the voyage of faith and long for the spiritual welfare of ourselves, our families, our churches and our communities it is only when the Holy Spirit comes that there is going to be transformation to life and for the Lord’s glory.

In Mary’s situation she accepted the Lord’s arrangement (see Lk. 1:38) and the rest is history; salvation history, God glorifying history.

Perhaps it is time that the church in the UK did likewise, and perhaps it is time that Philip Venables did likewise. And how will this be known? It will be known when we are believing and obeying the Word and also are passionate in prayer to seek the Lord’s will.

Open To The Holy Spirit

I heard it recently and it always raises my hackles when hear it. It goes like this: Someone has held to a cessationist position as regards to their view on the sign gifts having passed away with the establishing of the New Testament era and the completion of Scripture. They then change their position and move towards engaging with those sign gifts because they deem that they are given by God to be used today. The observation made concerning such people, is that they have now become open to the workings of the Holy Spirit.

The reason this assertion annoys me is that I hold to a cessationist position and in holding that position would also want to most fervently assert that I desire to be open to the workings of the Holy Spirit. There is much confusion about what the cessationist position entails and particularly as that relates to the Holy Spirit. Any individual or church that concludes that the Holy Spirit is not working today has misrepresented the biblical revelation of God and His ways. The Holy Spirit is the life-giving Spirit of God. If the Holy Spirit is not working then there is no fruit of the Spirit in a Christian and the church is a lifeless human entity.

I want to be open to all that the Holy Spirit has for us today. To take any other position is to settle for a malformed demonstration of the Lord and his workings. From scripture I conclude that prophecies, speaking in tongues and the gifts of healing to name the three main sign gifts, are no longer operational today. But I do want all for myself and my church of what the Holy Spirit is doing today.

I have written here about the necessity of having spiritual gifts in the church.

Me And The Holy Spirit

Faith deals especially with the Holy Spirit. Faith considers the promises themselves, looks up to the Spirit and waits for the Spirit to bring life and comfort into them. (John Owen; Communion With God, p180)

I read this this morning and it has led me to ponder on the whole experience that I am having of God. The Scriptures, we believe, are the living oracles of God. But the life of those words of scripture is only experienced when the Holy Spirit enlivens them to our souls.

My thought goes to Hebrews 4:2 where we read  For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 

If I am looking to the Word purely as any old book then I am the equivalent of an unbeliever. This is the case because there is no faith-giving, Holy Spirit depending life. It is when I am looking away to God, the Holy Spirit, to bring life that I experience the vital life of the Word of God.

I am left wondering then whether my Christian life is emasculated because I am not looking to the Holy Spirit enough.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is the “shy” person of the trinity who does not want us to draw attention to Himself. He wants to glorify the Son through the elucidating of the Word. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-14b) said our Saviour concerning the Holy Spirit. However, being shy does not make The Holy Spirit of no consequence. Rather, the reverse, His being and work is fully on display when He is displaying the Son and bringing life to the Word.

So. I am thinking, I need to actively be acknowledging the Holy Spirit in my life and in my study and in my prayer. Implementing such will lead to a new vigour for my life.

Age Of The Spirit.

Here I referred to the fact that this is the “Age of the Church”. Today I want to assert a complimentary emphasis that this is also the age of The Spirit. When our Lord Jesus was preparing his disciples for his absence he specifically indicated that His absence would mean the Holy Spirit being present. So we read Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified (John 7:39b). And further But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. (John 16:13-14).

The Holy Spirit demonstrably came on the Day of Pentecost as is described in Acts 2, and that day was the birth day of the church. This starts to indicate to us that the delineation of this age should be that of the church and the Spirit is not a matter of contrast, but of harmony. The Spirit is in fact the creator of the Church. The Spirit is the one who brings new birth as our Lord said in John 3:8 the The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Moreover, it is interesting to observe that in Revelation when the Lord is speaking to his churches the continued refrain comes that Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (see 2:7,11,17,28 and 3:6,13 and 22). The life giving Word for the churches comes from the living Lord by the Spirit.

Moreover it is the Spirit who is in the business of transforming our characters by His Spirit. so we see how the Spirit works to produce Christ-like fruit in our lives: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Eph. 5:22-23)

Oh may the Holy Spirit be among us to glorify our Lord and transform our lives by the Word. Let us pray that might be so for this weekend.

The Wind.

Overnight between Wednesday and Thursday (17th-18th), last week we had a night of high winds. One thing that I observed was that in the morning there was plenty of evidence that the wind had been blowing. Parts of trees were on the ground, rubbish and various other detritus was blown around and old packaging was here and there. Obviously when the wind blows it has an impact and that impact is demonstrable.

One of the images for explaining the work of the Holy Spirit is that of the wind blowing. Our Lord said this The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3;8). 

So we can make legitimate connections here to how the wind illustrates the working of God in our lives. So I ask is my life being re-arranged by the working of the Spirit? A strong wind has an impact so may the wind of the Spirit have an impact on me. When the Spirit moves sin is shifted, righteousness emerges and Christ becomes more precious.

The Simeon Life.

The Simeon life is life indeed!
A man set on God
A life lived to the full.
He comes and then goes
On Scriptures page.
Only one incident in his life portrayed.
But his life was so big.
A Holy Spirit life it was;
Moving for God all his days.

Righteous indeed through his faith in God,
Devout as he lived: careful of God.
And such a life is always the best.
Such a life is truly blessed.

Moreover, he waited in hope
for Israels Comforter who Isaiah promised.
Further, a promise had come to his heart,
that he would see the Christ before he depart.

And so we find him
In the Right place: the temple,
to meet the right person: Jesus,
At just the right time:
His parents brought Him there,
To do just the right thing:
Receive Him into his arms.

Oh this is a man of the Spirit.
Oh may that be me;
May I have a Simeon life
A life that would be
Counting for God.

But that is not all,
there came the right words too.
Words of Contentment;
He had seen Messiah, you see.
And that meant everything to him.
And now he could go
Safe in the knowledge
that salvation had come.

A salvation for all whether Jew or Gentile.
But such must be received with humility of heart
Or we will fall
But the believers will rise because He suffered our pain.
And Mary will feel it as she sees His pain.

So here is a man, a Saviour He loves.
Here is a man so devoted to God.
So as we celebrate Christ’s Coming
Let us think on this man
Who received the Christ
And brought blessing to others

And if we can live like Simeon
then our life will count.
For Jesus was all he wanted to see.
The Comforter had come for his people, you see.
Simeon knew that
And it made him content
And he looked forward to heaven
Knowing all was now well.

So the Simeon life
Outshines all the rest
Think of your life
And remember,
The Simeon life is the best.


Here is a sermon preached on The Simeon Life on December 25th 2017.

Can They Pick The Fruit?

Christians are called to be fruit bearers. As a result of the transformation of our lives that comes through knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and through the Holy Spirit coming into our lives, we  are to live lives that display the fruit of God’s workings. Scriptures which indicate this would be:-

  • I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
  • This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)
  • So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. (Rom. 7:4)
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23)

In horticulture there is a general understanding that fruit is to be picked and enjoyed. So the question I have to ask myself is whether or not there is the fruit of God’s workings in evidence from my life. Moreover, do people see that there is good fruit on display that they can easily pick? Or do they have to go rummaging through the leaves in order to seek to discover whether there is any good fruit or not.

In Matthew 7:15-20 our Lord gives further clarity about this fruit-bearing issue. He says:-

‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.

The fruit on display in my life will confirm who I am. We have established that the Christian should have good fruit in their life. However, developing this theme further – let us be clear that everyone is bearing fruit in their  lives. The question is, is there good fruit on display, is there the fruit of God on display? Is that fruit which comes rom the Spirit there for all to see?

So where am I in respect of these things? If I am a Christian I will have good fruit in my life. If I am a healthy Christian I will have lots of good fruit on display.

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