I believe in the Holy Spirit

The title of this blog is a sentence from the apostles’ confession of faith as used in Protestant churches of Reformed character. In another version there is the beautiful addition: “…who is Lord and gives life.” I was reminded of this confession of faith when I led a fourth and final evening last Friday in a Christian Reformed Church in the east of Groningen on the Holy Spirit. It is already very special that Royal Mission gives us the opportunity to organize a number of evenings in such a denomination on this, for many people, exciting theme. It was even very special for me to be able to stand there in that church hall and teach. Grandpa and grandma More than 40 years ago I was sitting in the same room next to my grandpa and grandma, putting away mints. My mother’s parents came here twice every Sunday to attend services because they were members of this church. The sermon was often too difficult for me, so I counted the boxes on the ceiling or the pipes of the organ. As a child I heard the confession of faith pronounced by the pastor in that same church. It was told about God the Father, the almighty creator of heaven and earth and about Jesus Christ his only begotten Son our Lord, and so on. The Holy Spirit came off a bit badly in that confession. It only mentioned that we believe in the Holy Spirit. For much of my life the Holy Spirit has remained the great unknown. Not only because of the confession of faith, but especially because in our church we did not really know how to relate to the Spirit of God.Power of the Holy Spirit While I was teaching there on Friday evening, I caught myself mentally speaking to my grandparents. They are no longer alive, but I saw them sitting there again in the same place as always. It was not difficult to imagine that, because the church hall looks exactly the same as it did 40 years ago. How different my grandparents’ lives would have been if they knew what I know now about who God really is and how He wants to work powerfully through His Spirit in each of us. Now there were distant relatives and former classmates in the room. For some it was quite strange that I was standing there talking about Jesus, because they knew me from before. It is the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit that has ensured that I dare and can do this.Healing and deliverance You might imagine that in the almost 25 years that I have been preaching in churches, this is the most beautiful place for me to speak. There is no target group I would rather explain the message about the Holy Spirit to. Fortunately, the evening did not stop at theory. We have prayed for the filling of the Holy Spirit. People have been touched by God, healed and delivered. There were even a number who gave their lives to the Lord Jesus for the first time. The Holy Spirit was visibly and tangibly present in the church hall.Desire The room where it has literally been said for over 100 years: “I believe in the Holy Spirit” filled with his presence. Now I am convinced that He is there in every Sunday service, but this was different. The reason that the Holy Spirit shows itself in a different way is because the people there have given the Holy Spirit space to do what He wants. This process started with a group of women who chose a while ago to meet together every Monday morning to pray. Out of a desire that the Holy Spirit would show himself more in their church, they got down on their knees and invited the Spirit. The result is a commotion among young people who come to faith, adults who devote themselves more to Jesus and a church council that has to reflect on how they want to deal with this.To surprise Now that I think about it, it is actually a good thing that the confession of faith is limited to that one short sentence about the Holy Spirit. He cannot be wrapped up in a definition. I fear that the Holy Spirit chooses to be limited by our urge to put Him in our thinking frame. God’s Spirit wants to surprise and renew among people. That is beautiful, but also exciting. It requires putting aside our need to define and surrendering to Him. If you sense a desire within yourself for such a movement of God’s Spirit in your church, then I would like to encourage you to get on your knees before the Lord Jesus, just like the women in that church in East Groningen. In Acts we see what can happen when a prayer like this is ended: When they had finished praying, the place where they were gathered began to tremble, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the message of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31) This weekend at Royal Mission we are celebrating a Growth Conference on the theme ‘Living with the Spirit’. I would like to be surprised again!

About Martin Dol

Getrouwd met Annemarije en vader van 3. Hoofd Onderwijs binnen Royal Mission en gek van geo-cachen.

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