From the archives

2012-10-19 14.55.23

I found this article in an old ARMNZ Magazine (ARMNZ was the precursor to New Wine in New Zealand) that I was browsing through. Thought it was still excellent content and worth sharing…


An address given by Dr George Carey at an ARMNZ Renewal Conference
Ngaruawahia, 5 August 1987

The true story is told of when Pope John XXII visited a hospital in Rome which is dedicated to the Holy Spirit. All the staff were lined up on the steps to meet him and he went up to the tall imposing leader of them and asked “who might you be?” to which she replied “I am the Superior of the Holy Spirit”. The Pope is alleged to have blinked and said, “Cor, and I’m only the Vicar of Christ!” Which introduces nicely the subject of the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the believer in Mission!

In the early 1950s Leslie Newbiggin in “The Household of God” alluded to the third great stream in the Christian tradition — the pentecostals. He said that there are now three great movements in the Christian tradition — the Catholic sacramental tradition, the Protestant word tradition and the Pentecostal spirit tradition. This has proved to be a prophetic statement. This worldwide recovery of awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of God’s people makes it imperative that we truly understand the Spirit’s character and ways of working.

John’s Gospel is the greatest New Testament interpreter of the Holy Spirit Chapter three identifies the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ; the end of chapter seven reveals Him as the Spirit of Power; chapters fourteen to sixteen as the Spirit of Guidance and Truth, and chapter twenty as the Spirit of Ministry.

Fundamental to our thinking about the Holy Spirit and Ministry are these principles.

1. The Holy Spirit is the God who goes before us not just the Go-between God but the Going-before God. This makes a doctrine of the Holy Spirit very, very difficult indeed. Just when you think you have the Holy Spirit cornered like a butterfly — He’s moved! It reminds me of that well-known CMS Youth prayer: “Lord, show us where you’re working in the world today and help us to get there in time!” God is at work in the world — the God who goes before us, generating change.

2. He is the Great Disturber, because to live with the Spirit is to live dangerously, to be open to new possibilities and to live with the provisional with yourself, with others and with the Church. When you are building a new home or renovating one you have to live with the disturbance and the rubble. When the Holy Spirit is working in your church never be surprised with the rubble, the disturbance, the unfinishedness of it because the Holy Spirit hasn’t finished with us yet!

3. He is the Great Christ-Glorifier. Any authentic work of the Holy Spirit is going to take us back to Christ You cannot separate the work of the Spirit from Christ. That’s why John 1 puts the emphasis on Christ not on the Spirit. In “Keeping in Step with the Spirit” Jim Packer gives the illustration of the Holy Spirit as the floodlighting of God. You know how we highlight our buildings by the careful use of floodlights. You immediately admire the building, not the floodlights. The better the lighting the more it accentuates the beauty of the building. You don’t hear people admiring what beautiful, efficient floodlights they are. It is the building they illustrate. This is why it is so difficult to pin the Holy Spirit down, and so easy to overlook His activity — because the Holy Spirit wants Christ to be glorified. Yet there isn’t a great separation between the persons of the Godhead. We offer our worship to the Holy Spirit and to Christ and to the Father jointly.

The Significance of Renewal for us Today

Much of this is obvious but we need to be reminded of it before we go any further. When I speak to people in the Church of England who are embarrassed about charismatic renewal I take them to four particular contributions that charismatic renewal has made to the Church today.

The first is the presence of the Holy Spirit with the believer. John Taylor in “The Go-Between God” speaks of the Holy Spirit ‘who possesses His people, who longs to take hold of us and of His Church’. This presence is signalled in phrases like baptism in the Holy Spirit or release of the Spirit. This has led to a new confidence in the Gospel today. John Taylor said recently “A powerful Saviour cannot be proclaimed by an innocuous church”. It is only when the Holy Spirit gets hold of people and shakes them that we see things beginning to happen. This is a major contribution of renewal, I believe.

Secondly, an emphasis on ministry and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Every-member ministry has moved into practically every tradition of the Church today but it started in the renewal and with some fine books such as Michael Harper’s “Let My People Grow”. Every-member ministry open to the Holy Spirit in the family of God is fundamentally important for the renewal of the Church. Linking with that is an openness to the spiritual gifts. For many years I approached the bible with a kind of scissors and paste method, cutting out portions of scripture so that I avoided great chunks of Acts and of I Corinthians and I went to “safe” passages. As a good Protestant I went to the Pauline material and Catholics like to hive off to the Gospels without realising that we are meant to possess the whole of scripture. So we can’t avoid the emphasis of scripture upon the gifts and healing and so on.

Thirdly, the character of worship. Over the last twenty-five years or so its no accident that there has been such a revolution in changing patterns of worship. The significance of the charismatic movement has been very profound indeed with the music that is now part and parcel of all the traditions and the emphasis upon movement and dance and raising of hands. As a result we have become more aware of each other: evangelicals have become more catholic and sacramental; sacramentalists have become more evangelical in an emphasis upon the preaching of the Word and so on.

The fourth feature of renewal has been the way in which the churches in renewal have grown. One illustration: in the Church of England we have had a great resurgence in ordinands coming forward in the last few years. The majority of them are coming from churches in renewal — catholic and evangelical People are knocking at the door wanting ordination to Christ’s ministry.

We should therefore be encouraged and recognise that this is what God has given us by way of inheritance. Lets not be ashamed of it; let’s thank God for it. But then, lets build on it.

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