Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Evidence of the Holy Spirit

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials...”

~Acts 15:28 (NRSV).

When really do we know the Presence of the Holy Spirit as we’re led in our way?

This question has perplexed many a church and believer over the age since the Spirit was given.

Some people seem to have such a remarkable grasp over the call of the Holy Spirit and, yet, others seem to get it barbarically wrong. It’s a challenge for us all.

Evidence of the Holy Spirit – Knowing What It Isn’t

Sometimes it’s easier asking the question the other way around. What isn’t evidence of the Holy Spirit?

We could say that anytime we read God as ‘confirming’ something we really want, we have sufficient cause for concern. Rarely-to-never is that God’s Spirit speaking.

Circumstances colluding are often also attributed to the Holy Spirit, like “God just found me that parking bay.” But what about the times when the circumstances don’t collude?

Knowing when God isn’t in something is almost as good as knowing when the Lord is in something.

Evidence of the Holy Spirit – Sensing What It Is

The letter to the Gentile believers—from which the verse uppermost is taken—is apparent for very good evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work and the diligence of the Council at Jerusalem to obey that leading.

Signs occurred over time, including Peter’s vision (Acts 10:9-16), and this evidence of the Holy Spirit speaking made it essential that the leaders of the church stand up and listen. God was paving the way for the Gentiles to receive the Spirit (Acts 10:44) and be incorporated into a church threatened by its hold on the old Jewish ways—particularly circumcision. The Holy Spirit was teaching them what, in love, to get rid of.

But note there is a remarkable ease with which this seems to have occurred.

Recalling trying to sense God’s leading and confirmation in my life with regard to the woman to court and marry was similar. Resistance and barriers were nowhere to be seen or felt. God, it seemed, was paving the way. I constantly looked for signs for God saying “No!”—including consulting many trusted others—and I never received one. And even though I was still rather impetuous about the speed of our courtship-to-marriage, God did not rebuke me other than via my own sensing of problems, which I readily addressed.

There have been times when I certainly thought (or wanted to think) God was ‘in’ something. The Voice of the Holy Spirit boomed “No!” then. These times I hurt my relationships, and my credibility, because I forced things God wasn’t having a bar of.

Despite all this, it’s difficult to know with one-hundred percent certainty when God’s involved. But relational harmony is one good sign to watch for.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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