There is much written in the bible about the heart and the Spirit. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit he has given us”. I will give them a new heart and a new spirit. Jesus spoke about the Spirit as distinct from the flesh, or natural person.
The act of resurrection has to do with the Spirit making the person alive, become “born again” [to a new and living hope].
Apart from the Spirit in general terms, pre-Pentecost, we are presented with the Holy Spirit? in the form of “the comforter”? Jesus said that unless He went away, the Spirit could not come. But that the Father would send Him. We are given to understand that “the Lord, who IS THE SPIRIT, is somehow Christ incarnated? in us? Or come to live in us. [“formed in us”].
The gospel message is demonstrated in Acts as one that strikes at people’s hearts. The reception of the Spirit is shown as having dramatic effect such as tongues, prophecy etc. The revelation of God is overpowering such as to cause a great change to occur in people.
This change is because their world is turned upside down, (or right side up) and everything they previously knew, suddenly came together to make sense in a new and vibrant way. This change could only occur because of the contrast between the inner “death” they had always known, and the life which suddenly was now given to them. The Spirit in this way, at this time, was something that came upon them that was overpowering their natural senses, overpowering the inner death of the flesh.
Pentecostalism is built upon faith in this experience. They believe in recreating this same scenario, and people falling over supposedly under the influence of the Spirit was not uncommon. Inasmuch as God in His grace honoured their faith and was indeed truly present, perhaps. But there has also been much bad practice with people being pushed over by the person laying on the hands. There have also been emotional and extreme behaviours which are not God honouring. The demand for tongues to be spoken as a proof of the indwelling Spirit, has also been off-putting. “Do all speak in tongues?” NO. Famous people like Katherine Kuhlman, Jim Spillman, Benny Hinnes and others (Smith Wigglesworth?) are few and far between, and sometimes with dubious moral credentials.
But I show you a more perfect way says Paul. If I demonstrate all the Spirit gifts yet don’t have love, I am nothing. Make love your aim.
It was necessary for the faith to be initiated by the outpouring of the Spirit in an obvious and powerful way. It is not for me to comment on individual experiences today, that bear similarities to this experience. Only to say that many churches have been torn apart over this issue, seemingly without care or sensitivity for the chaos left behind. And perhaps this, in one way, would seem inevitable if those churches were truly “dead” at heart. But question marks remain.
The influx of the Spirit, gifts not withstanding, should always come with a new sense of love and thanksgiving towards God. The heart is where all our inner depths of feeling are kept, and none more so than our “feelings” regarding who we are and what we are destined for, including our captivity to death. This spiritual transference should be heart altering at the core level. It should take the person away from their old life and cause them to live a new life that is in tune with God. The initial faith that at Pentecost was accompanied by signs of power, now more seems to be replaced with the faith that changes hearts towards God and others, and is now the more recognisable “sign” of the Spirit’s presence and power. We now rightfully expect the “fruit” of the Spirit.
Again, in immaturity, (Once I was a child)… but when I became an adult, I gave up childish things. The power gifts of the Spirit were never meant to carry through to eternity. There will be no tongues or prophecy in “the Kingdom”. It is always to be by faith, and that faith will be tested so that the maturity of love will overcome all else. It is love that is the nature of God, not the works He might do. Yes we are to do the works that His love initiates, but no longer are we to roam the countryside healing lepers and cripples and the mentally afflicted. If this were to be the case, there would be no sick in the hospitals, and salvation would no longer be by faith in the righteousness of God, but simply by faith in His visible power. It appears that visible power may yet be the undoing of those looking for the wrong thing. If the “anti-Christ” were to literally come showing such powers, then many would fall for it. [the possibility exists that this process is already in place?]
True faith is that which is there because of the desire to be with a God whose nature is of love and righteousness, and God’s plan is to provide an environment in which this can take place. So if we suddenly seem to return to the “powers of Pentecost”, we should be wary, because when Jesus appears there will be no second chances, it will suddenly end without further ado or delay. Unless the anti-Christ references are meaning something more subtle than we are expecting.
“Do not harden your heart”. The heart is receptive to the Spirit, it is the hardening of sin that throws up barriers to the Spirit’s desire to change your life by changing your heart. Can God’s Spirit dwell in man, in his heart? To change that heart? This is His calling to all, to respond accordingly. “God is love”. “Love is of God”.