I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but if you are, then you probably wonder from time to time why you have to learn something so many times before it finally sinks in. This morning, as I was reading through Acts, I couldn’t help but be struck with the reality of my need to regularly read big chunks of Scripture at a single sitting.
This is true for lots of reasons. For one thing, it’s the way Scripture was meant to be learned. Luke didn’t write Acts in handy little chapters and verses so that we could read a little bit each day. He wrote it as one story to be read aloud or to oneself in one sitting. If we want to understand a book of the Bible, we need to read it like it was meant to be read.
Following on that reason, it brings out a lot of the bigger themes that you’re so prone to miss in a book if you don’t see them repeated over several chapters. Call me an idiot, but it blew my mind to see this time through the book just how big a role the Holy Spirit plays in this book. It’s plain to see, I know, but our need of the Spirit, the necessity of the Spirit going where the gospel goes, the sovereignty of the Spirit in determining where the gospel goes, the role of the Spirit in guiding and protecting believers, the role of the Spirit in redemptive-history, the necessity of the filling of the Spirit for any effective ministry… over and over and over again the Holy Spirit (or ‘the Spirit’ or ‘the Spirit of Jesus’) is emphatically spoken of as essential to the gospel-cause.
That’s something that I need to hear more of. In the cessationist circles I’ve always moved in the Spirit is viewed with a funny kind of suspicion–as if he really actually did have something to do with those whacko tv-preachers. Obviously that’s not who he is. But the temptation, of course, is to swing the pendulum so far in the other direction that we leave the Spirit no room in our lives or churches.
In fact, I dare confess that there have been times in my life when in my own theology I have made the Spirit out to be a sort of demi-God, under the Father and Jesus who are truly God. I mean, I would never have said this, but it seems to be the way I viewed the world. I looked at God working in this world as if the Father could or would do anything without doing it through his Holy Spirit.