How do you see the Holy Spirit at work in the world today? In the final part of this series, Leonard Sweet, Craig Keener, Tim Hughes, and Bruce Marchiano discuss the miraculous works and plans of the Holy Spirit.
Leonard Sweet – Currently the E. Stanely Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University, Founder and President of SpiritVenture Ministries, author of more than 200 articles and 40 books, and voted “One of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America” by ChurchReport Magazine.
“In Acts it reads “God has determined our appointed times” (17:26). Is this a great time to be appointed, or what? I call these times of our appointment “TGiF” culture where T=Twitter, G=Google, i=iPhone, and F=Facebook. I grew up in the print culture of a Gutenberg or modern world, and now live in a very different digital TGiF universe. Throughout this TGiF culture, I see the distinguishing marks of the Spirit, so much so that we may be poised for a revival the likes of which the church has seldom seen. To be blunt, I am more and more convinced a revival is coming. Whether the church will participate in this revival will depend on whether we can come to see TGIF as GIFT.”
Craig Keener – Professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and award-winning author of more than 15 books including Miracles: The Credibility of The New Testament Accounts and IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.
“We are living in a remarkable time. When the New Testament was written, who could have imagined, apart from divine enablement, that the good news would really be preached among all peoples or that people from every language and tribe and nation would gather before God’s throne? (The Roman Empire had trade ties as far east as China and as far south as Tanzania.) Over the centuries the gospel spread from being most influential in the Middle East to being most influential in Turkey and North Africa, then to southern Europe and Ethiopia, then to Russia and northern Europe, and so on. Some places where the gospel once flourished are now spiritually arid. But within the past century we have witnessed the largest shift, as the center of Christianity has shifted from the West to the Global South. In my wife’s country, Congo-Brazzaville, Christianity has grown from perhaps 2% a century ago to roughly 90% today (although there, as here, not all who claim to follow Christ are truly committed to Him).
God’s Spirit is driving much of this growth in ways that could never be humanly coordinated. In my research for my recent book on miracles, I have come across so many accounts of miracles that God has performed in connection with the spread of the gospel that I believe that this feature accompanies most of the revivals sweeping through new areas. In just a few weeks of interviews in Congo-Brazzaville, we collected seven eyewitness accounts of raisings from the dead from reliable witnesses known to our family–one from within our family. One danger in the West is that we may want to take credit for it for our culture or our movement, but I suspect that sometimes God moves in spite of us. There is still so much need for sound teaching and discipleship, but just as we read in the book of Acts, God’s Spirit is active and moving His people across all barriers, by a variety of means, to bring His gospel to the ends of the earth.
“One of the exciting ways I’m seeing the Spirit of God move is in the area of healing in the midst of worship. Just the other day someone shared the story of how her husband had a seizure and consequently lost all of his long term memory. He couldn’t remember his wedding day, his conversion and other key moments in his life. After many visits to the hospital, the medics said there was little they could do. However whilst listening to a song of worship he was filled with the Holy Spirit and over 75 % of his memory instantly returned. The Spirit gives life.”
“From a week of conducting crusades in rural South Africa, I saw the Holy Spirit do breathtaking things. It was like the roof opened and “living streams” poured in through the ceiling. During worship people were openly weeping, on their faces on the ground. I saw people crying out for more of God, running forward when the invitation to repent was given, and though I have no hard evidence, I’m choosing to believe lives were touched and healed in all of God’s most powerful ways. The key I saw before my eyes was desperation for God and the touch of God – I am convinced it opens the door wide for the Spirit’s fullness. All this to say, I believe this is what he is up to in these days – confronting us with the folly of all our “human” stuff, strategies, solutions, securities… and drawing us to our knees in desperation before him. For this is where he is found! Jeremiah 29:13 says ‘when you seek me with ALL OF YOUR HEART I will be found.’ He’s driving us to Jesus.”
How do you see the Holy Spirit at work in the world day? Leave a comment with your observation.