Our deacons read through Knowing God by JI Packer. If you have never read this, may I strongly encourage you to spend some time with Packer and work through his book. You will not be disappointed. Packer provides quite a punch, drawing us to contemplate our Lord and dwell on Him. He fills each chapter with rich theology helping encourage us to know God better.
In chapter six Packer provides some valuable insights regarding the Holy Spirit.
Packer observes, “The person and work of Christ have been, and remain, subjects of constant debate within the church; yet the person and work of the Holy Spirit are largely ignored. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the Cinderella of Christian doctrines. Comparatively few seem to be interested in it” (68).
What is being ignored? A most important part of our worship, “Why, were it not for the work of the Holy Spirit there would be no gospel, no faith, no church, no Christianity in the world at all” (69).
Without the Spirit, there would be no gospel and no New Testament.” Christ sent the Holy Spirit to them, to teach them all truth and so save them from all error, to remind them of what they had been taught already and to reveal to them the rest of what their Lord meant them to learn” (70). Consider John 14:26, “The Counselor . . . will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Without the Spirit there would be no faith, regeneration, or even Christians. The Spirit opens blind eyes! He causes people to learn the truth and be regenerated. “He testified by revealing and inspiring, as we saw . . . He testifies by illuminating: opening blind eyes, restoring spiritual vision, enabling sinners to see that the gospel is indeed God’s truth, and Scripture is indeed God’s Word, and Christ is indeed God’s Son” (71).
We teach the Bible, but the Spirit uses the word to illumine, convict, and regenerate. This means, when preaching content is more important than stories, mood, or emotions. Packer says,
“It is not for us to imagine that we can prove the truth of Christianity by our own arguments; nobody can prove the truth of Christianity except the Holy Spirit, by his own almighty work of renewing the blinded heart. It is the sovereign prerogative of Christ’s Spirit to convince men’s consciences of the truth of Christ’s gospel; and Christ’s human witnesses must learn to ground their hopes of success not on clever presentation of the truth by man, but on powerful demonstration of the truth by the Spirit” (71).
Amen, Amen, and Amen!!
Simply seeing believers proves the power of the Spirit. Effective preaching really proves the Spirit is at work, not as much the pastor. The preacher remains faithful to the content, the Spirit does what He does with it and uses it for His purposes.
This chapter resonated well with me in this day and age. We live in a time where the Charismatic church thrives and often the complaint is made, “You don’t believe in the Spirit and dishonor Him by not exhibiting the gifts (Tongues, healing, prophecy, etc).” But when we understand how the Spirit uses His own Word, we begin to see that preaching biblically honors the Spirit and His role and function in the Trinity the best.