7/18/97 Holy Spirit study focuses on the Trinity's 'energizer'

by Terri Lackey , posted Friday, July 18, 1997 (21 years ago)

RIDGECREST, N.C.(BP)--Many Christians find it difficult to talk about the Holy Spirit. They fear him; they see him as mysterious; or they have trouble describing his magnitude.

"The Holy Spirit is difficult to communicate to people who are fearful of mystery and ghostly ideas of him," said Robertson McQuilkin, author of "Life in the Spirit," a study book that instructs Christians how to develop a loving and intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Life in the Spirit is a Baptist Sunday School Board-produced Lay Institute for Equipping (LIFE) course, an educational system designed to provide instruction in the areas of discipleship, leadership and ministry. It is the third in a trilogy of courses which also include "Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God" and "The Mind of Christ."

McQuilkin, former president of Columbia International University, Columbia, S.C., and full-time caregiver of his wife who has Alzheimer's disease, describes the Holy Spirit as "the energizer or executive of the Trinity. If we ignore him or do not participate with him, his ministry does not take place."

McQuilkin, who described his 12-week group study as an interactive course for Christians who "want to know the Holy Spirit more intimately," taught the course during afternoon sessions at Discipleship and Family Leadership Week at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference Center July 5-11.

"Living life in the Holy Spirit is much more than accepting Christ as personal Savior," McQuilkin said. "It is about being transformed and experiencing an intimate companionship with the Spirit of God."

McQuilkin illustrates a Christian's struggle to model God with a spiral or a tornado-like funnel. Before a person accepts Jesus, he is on a downward spiral away from God. As a Christian attempts to get closer to God, he is on an upward spiral.

The problem, according to McQuilkin, is that there are no plateaus in a spiral, and those who are not spiraling upward are spiraling downward, Christian or not.

McQuilkin gives three reasons why people might not allow themselves to be "transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit" -- ignorance, disobedience or unbelief.

"People distance themselves from the Holy Spirit through drifting or active rebellion, through disobedience or because they don't trust him enough." The recipe for growing in the Holy Spirit is actually quite simple, McQuilkin emphasizes, using his fingers to spell out Y-I-E-L-D and T-R-U-S-T.

"The secret is to yield and trust. And that's it."

McQuilkin said Christians who yield to God and trust in him are displaying supreme faith that he will work in their lives and help them become more like Jesus.

"They are living what should be called the normal Christian life. Unfortunately, we think of the normal Christian as an average Christian, when really it is someone who is living in an intimate relationship with God," McQuilkin said.

"In fact, many Christians don't grow out of infancy. They give their lives to Jesus and they don't do any more than that."

McQuilkin said God wants Christians to grow in the Holy Spirit so they can become companions with him. "He wants to be more than a friendly stranger; he wants to be an intimate companion."

Through Life in the Spirit, McQuilkin attempts to offer Christians a road map for entering a deep relationship with God. He examines 10 activities of the Holy Spirit and how they impact the life of a Christian who desires to be a strong disciple for Christ. In his book, McQuilkin explains the 10 activities as:

1) Creating: "God created humanity, but we rebelled against his purpose and fell. Because we fell, we can't always act like Jesus."

2) Revealing: "The Bible is God's revelation of his will for us; Jesus is our model of what God is like."

3) Redeeming: "Redemption is possible through the sacrificial love of the Father. His sacrificial love resulted in the death of his Son."

4) Indwelling: "God's ultimate goal is not merely to make us like Jesus in attitude and behavior. The Spirit is making us like Jesus so we can have a love relationship with the Father -- a relationship like the one Jesus had."

5) Transforming: "The Spirit immediately begins to transform us into a likeness of Jesus, and that is called spiraling up. It is about beginning the sanctification process, being made holy."

6) Filling: "So much controversy rages around being filled with the Spirit, but we can't skip examining the meaning of being Spirit-filled."

7) Overcoming: "Developing a personal battle strategy for partnering with the Spirit in winning the victory over temptations that assault Christians daily."

8) Gifting: "Knowing what God has called and equipped you to do. What spiritual gifts do you have?"

9) Sending: "Is world evangelism important to God? How will living in the Spirit impact a Christian's concern for missions?"

10) Glorifying: "Marriage is an example of God's grand plan of what a union with him should be. The intimate identity with God in love is a marriage made in heaven."

Life in the Spirit, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God and The Mind of Christ, produced by the BSSB's discipleship and family development division, can be purchased through Baptist Book Stores or by calling 1-800-458-2772.

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