It seems appropriate at this time of the year when the month of Halloween begins and Halloween movies are out in full force that we think about another kind of Power that is out there. What brought this to mind this morning was an article I ran across written by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), who was a pastor, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor, in a small volume of his writings published in 1988 titled, “We Travel An Appointed Way: Making Spiritual Progress,” compiled and edited by Harry Verploegh (1909-1999).
As I read this particular article which is Chapter 33 in the book titled “Religion of the Intellect versus Religion of the Spirit,” it gave me cause for reflection considering that it was written by Tozer probably years before he died in May 1963. Keep in mind while you are reading it that it was most likely written approximately 70+ years ago. Here is what Tozer wrote (pp. 99-102):
There is a deeply spiritual and thoroughly mystical quality in New Testament religion that we cannot afford to ignore if we would be Christians in fact as well as in name.
I think it well to let our worshiping hearts decide our theological questions. After the purity of the text has been established and the mind assured that the translation is trustworthy, the best source of true light is always the Spirit-illuminated heart. A praying heart, aglow with love for God, will intuit truth, will pass behind the veil and see and hear that which is not lawful to be uttered, which indeed cannot be uttered or even intellectually understood.
It is my opinion that the real battle line in theological war today is not the line the separates fundamentalism from liberalism. That war has been fought and won. No one need be in any wise confused on the question of Bible theology versus man-conceived liberalism. Both sides have said their say boldly. Everyone can know where he stands on such matters as the inspiration of the Scriptures, the deity of Jesus Christ, salvation through the blood of atonement, death and judgment, heaven and hell. The true battle line is elsewhere.
Always the decisive conflict in religion will be where important concepts are joined in opposition, concepts so vital that they are capable of saving or wrecking the Christian faith in any given generation. At this critical juncture in church history, the real conflict is between those who hold to an objective Christian capable of being grasped in its entirety by the human intellect and those who believe that there are far-in areas of religious experience so highly spiritual, so removed from and exalted about mere reason, that it takes a special anointing of the Holy Spirit to make them understood by the human heart. The difference is not academic merely. Should the advocates of religious intellectualism succeed in setting the direction for the church in this generation, the next generation of Christians will be come helpless victims of dead orthodoxy.
In conversation with one of the better known devotees of neo-intellectualism in evangelical circles, I asked the question bluntly, “Do you actually believe that everything essential in the Christian faith may be grasped by the human intellect?” The answer was immediate–“If I did not, I would be on my way toward agnosticism.” I did not say, but might properly have said, “And if you do, you are on your way toward rationalism.” For such indeed is the truth.
One of the heaviest problems the inquiring Christian faces today is why so many good and apparently sincere religious leaders are going so far astray from the plain teachings and practices of the New Testament. Destructive elements are being innocently introduced into present-day worship and service by Bible-loving evangelicals, elements so opposed to the true genius of Christianity that the two are mutually exclusive. One or the other must go. Either these new parasitic growths must be destroyed, or they will in a short time destroy the Christian faith. Yet these deadly things are encouraged in the churches by some of the most zealous orthodox leaders. Why?
The answer is simpler than we might suppose. These leaders are depending on their brain to guide them in their religious practices. They conceive the truth to be a doctrinal deposit, a kind of a theological road map to lead them to heaven. They check the map to make sure they are going the right direction, and after that they are on their own. No Unseen Guide is necessary. If they should be attacked by doubts, they need only stop under a lamppost and reassure themselves that they have indeed “accepted” Christ. Then they get underway again with complete confidence that they are on the same road as the apostles and prophets.
The question being discussed by many these days–why religion is increasing and morality slipping, all at the same time–finds its answer in this very error, the error of religious intellectualism. Men have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. The text alone will not elevate the moral life. To become morally effective, the truth must be accompanied by a mystic element, the very element supplied by the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit will no be banished to a footnote without taking terrible vengeance against His banishers. The That vengeance may be seen today in the nervous, giggling, worldly-minded and thoroughly carnal fundamentalism that is spreading over the land. Doctrinally, it wears the robes of scriptural belief, but beyond that it resembles the religions of Christ and his apostles not at all.
The mysterious presence of the Spirit is vitally necessary if we are to avoid the pitfalls of religion. As the fiery pillar led Israel through the wilderness, so the Spirit of truth must lead us all our journey through. One text alone could improve things mightily for us if we would but obey it: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 KJV). (Quote source: “We Travel An Appointed Way,” pp. 99-102.)
The emphasis of Tozer’s article was and is on the power of the Holy Spirit, and the next generation that Tozer refers to has already arrived on the scene (e.g., it’s my generation known as the Baby Boomers–born between 1946-1964) and now includes three younger generations along with it (Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z).
With another Halloween quickly approaching, today we think nothing about all of the Halloween stuff going on all around us or even, on a larger scale, the incredible amount of evil and violence that fill so many movies in theaters and on TV, and in social media, and not just at Halloween but throughout the year. However, in today’s society if one should bring up the subject of the Holy Spirit especially in secular quarters or even among nominal Christians today, the smirks and laughter will be readily apparent, and at the very least you might be thought of as being a little “mentally unhinged.” Apparently, evil is okay, but the Holy Spirit? Seriously? That’s how far we have come in the 70+ years since Tozer penned those words above.
In a short article published in 2016 titled, “The Dynamic Power of the Holy Spirit,” by Dr. Michael Youssef, Senior Pastor (Rector) of the Church of the Apostles, and the Executive President of Leading the Way, he describes the power of the Holy Spirit:
When we speak of the power of the Holy Spirit, many people–even Christians–misunderstand the meaning of “power.” They tend to define power as the world defines it.
In the world’s view, power conveys the ability to control people, events, and circumstances for our own advantage. In the world, power brings independence and self-sufficiency, with no need for God’s help or the assurance of others.
While many devote their lives to achieving this goal, this type of power can never satisfy the soul or bring joy or peace. The world’s power is temporary, leaving a person always wanting more.
In describing the power of the Holy Spirit, the Bible paints quite a different picture (see Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 12:9). The word translated as “power” in the English Bible is the Greek word “dynamis,” from which we get the word “dynamite.” In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples that before they would be able to evangelize the world, they must receive the “dynamis” of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit possesses a dynamite-like power that works within a believer to blast out anything that is unlike God. It is not a power that exalts one person above others. It does not manipulate or control others. Instead, the Holy Spirit uses His power to break us so that He might remake us. The more we get self out of the way and yield our will to His, the more powerfully He is able to pour Himself out through us to others, and the more powerfully He is able to transform our lives. We are merely the conduits, the channels through which God’s power moves.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses of God’s love, to live in a way that pleases God, to meet fully the demands and pressures of life, and to resist temptation. The power of the Holy Spirit is the only power that is sufficient to win spiritual battles against our own selfish desires and the wiles of Satan.
Set aside some time today to ask God to free you from the desire to control others and to lead you to become a clean vessel that can be used to transmit His power. Ask Him to do the same for your spouse, your children, your coworkers, and your friends.
Prayer: Lord, teach me about the true power of Your Spirit and grant me the willingness to submit to Your power. I confess that You alone are God. Please display Your power in and through my life today. Make me a clean and willing vessel. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen. (Quote source here.)
This Thursday evening, doorbells will be ringing, and Americans will be distributing about 600 million pounds of candy while answering the call of “trick or treat” from their costume-clad, plastic-pumpkin toting neighborhood children. Today Halloween is regarded by most as simply a fun time to dress up, go out with some friends, collect candy, and maybe play a good-natured prank. The name Halloween actually comes from “All Hallows Eve,” meaning the eve of All Hallows Day, or All Saints’ Day. Christians celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1 to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who have died. But Halloween also corresponds to the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain (SOW-in). The ancient people of Ireland believed that spiritual beings entered our world on Samhain and began the tradition of carving lanterns into vegetables and wearing masks to ward off or confuse evil spirits.
The idea of scaring away evil spirits may seem foolish to our twenty-first century sensibilities, but as Christians we cannot simply brush off the idea that spirits are active among us. Jesus frequently encountered evil spirits during his ministry, and many people came to Jesus asking him to deliver them from such evil spiritual forces. The apostle Paul reminds us that we are in an ongoing struggle against “forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil” (Ephesians 6:12). On the other hand, we have a greater spiritual presence—the Holy Spirit—on our side, equipping and protecting us.
Who Is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is, like God the Father (or Creator) and Jesus Christ, one person of the Holy Trinity. Christians recognize God in three different manifestations. We know God as the Creator of all things, who reigns from heaven. We see God most clearly in the person of Jesus, the human incarnation of God, who lived with us, taught us, and sacrificed his life for us. And we experience God through the Holy Spirit, who prepares us to do God’s work and blesses us with a growing faith and an ever-increasing understanding of God.
Youth may be confused about who the Holy Spirit is and what the Spirit does. No doubt many adults are, too. It might be because the work of the Holy Spirit occurs on such a personal level that it is nearly impossible to come up with a description of the Spirit that applies to everyone. For instance, the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to us, convicts us of our sins, and offers us guidance and comfort. But these revelations come to us individually and we receive them differently, depending on where we are in our faith journey and what we need to hear at a particular time.
Many Gifts, One Spirit
The Spirit not only reveals God’s will but also equips us with spiritual gifts. The Spirit’s gifts are unique to each person. Some people are very comfortable talking about their faith with a complete stranger, while others are not. But those other people may have the ability to bring life to a Bible story for a group of three- and four-year-olds. Still others might be especially good at making people who are new to a Christian community feel welcome or at caring for those are sick. Some have an amazing command of Scripture; some can preach; some can organize mission and outreach projects.
Every person has a particular and personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Despite the differences, the Spirit works in all persons for the glory of God and for the good of all people. We are incredibly blessed when we learn to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, come to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and open up our lives to God’s continual presence. (Quote source here.)
So, as we move through the month of October with all of the Halloween festivities and movies, let’s not forget about where the real source of power for the Christian comes from–the power of the Holy Spirit. For further understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, read this article titled, “Who is the Holy Spirit?–5 Things You Need to Know,” at BibleStudyTools.com.
I’ll end this post with the words of Jesus found in Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . .
In Jerusalem . . .
And in all Judea and Samaria . . .
And to the ends of the earth . . . .
YouTube Video: “Here I Am Send Me” by Darlene Zschech: