Wednesday, November 09, 2005


The sufficiency of the Spirit

When I hear of professing Christians who have recently discovered the charismatic movement, I invariably hear testimonies that speak of how the professor has found greater peace, joy, zeal, power, etc., since his fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit. Whereas life before charismaticism was relatively dry and lifeless, life since encountering the fullness of the Holy Spirit just has more of everything. I understand this enthusiasm to a great extent, because I experienced it myself twenty years ago when I received what I understood to be the baptism of the Holy Spirit complete with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. From that point on, I felt that I'd "arrived" at a higher plane, much higher than where I was at when I was merely born again.

Little did I suspect way back in 1985 that in the year 2005, I'd have renounced my "baptism of the Spirit" as spurious, and that I'd be rejoicing in being "merely" born again. Wait a minute, let's scratch that word "merely", because I truly feel as though I am more complete than I ever was as a "spirit-filled" professor. After all, look at all the benefits I enjoy:

  1. All of my sins are forgiven and imputed to Christ's account, thus leaving me justified before God.
  2. In Christ, I have eternal life.
  3. I am indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  4. I have the Word of God--the Scriptures--which are fully inspired by God, and which are sufficient pertaining to all matters of faith and practice.
  5. I enjoy the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit whenever I study the Scriptures or hear the Scriptures preached.
  6. By God's grace I enjoy the benefits of progressive sanctification, through which I see the continuing increase of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
  7. On a daily basis, I find that I am constantly in the perfect will of God, as He leads me through the Word as applied to my heart by the Holy Spirit in concert with the daily unfolding of His sovereign will through Providence. Every step of the way, He leads me perfectly and infallibly.
  8. God is working all things--both good and bad--out together for my ultimate good and for His glory.

Since I've left charismaticism and adopted the Reformed faith, I feel like anything but a second-class Christian. Although some may pity me or even look down on me for lacking the fullness of the Holy Spirit, I truly feel as though I lack absolutely nothing!

In particular, I am persuaded that I have all of the spiritual gifts and graces that I need--and then some. Although I no longer claim to move in the gift of prophecy in any sense of the term, I count myself as far better off than those of the early church who did move in that gift. During the apostolic age, the New Testament was in the process of being written and compiled, so the church's knowledge was not as complete as that which it now possesses in the form of the completed Scriptures. In the Scriptures, I find the words of the prophets and apostles, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, their words are alive to me to this day. Although I freely grant that the early church had much need of prophetic ministry in the days when the Scriptures were not yet complete, I do not envy them their gift, for in the Scriptures I have all I need.

Moreover, when it comes to applying the Scriptures to my day-to-day life, I have no need of any kind of special revelation. In fact, I find that the Scriptures as applied to my heart by the illumination of the Holy Spirit are more than enough to lead me in the right direction. When it comes to choices and decisions that are not specifically addressed in Scripture--which job to take, which car to buy, whom to marry, etc.--I have found that God in His Providence always leads me in the direction that is best for me, whether that "best" involves pleasure or pain. I have no need for special revelation, a "still small voice", to lead me. He always leads me exactly where I ought to go.

With all due respect to those who insist that the gift of prophecy is still operational in the church today, I ask one simple question, "Why?" As my testimony has shown, God has given me everything that I need in Christ. As far as revelation is concerned, I have found that the Scriptures as illuminated through the Holy Spirit are sufficient for all of my needs, so I need no new words of revelation to add to my knowledge or to encourage me, and since God always guides me rightly through Scripture and Providence, I have no need for a still small voice. The ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit that I enjoy are more than enough to aid me to live the Christian life in a joyous and victorious manner! I have all the revelation I need in the Law, Prophets, and Apostles, and have no need for any new prophetic witness. I am complete in Christ.

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