Quench not the Spirit

I am old enough to remember the Jesus People movement and I believe that it was in a large part a genuine work of the Holy Spirit. Young people who were disillusioned with the empty formality of the older generation’s religion and disappointed by the empty promises of the hippie movement found what their hearts longed for in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But some were just along for the thrill of the ride. I met one young man who was hitch-hiking across Canada in his zeal to share the gospel with other young people, He had a dagger hidden in his hiking boot in case someone tried to rob him. I found it impossible to believe that the Holy Spirit had inspired him to carry both the gospel and the dagger.

In a church we attended some 50 years ago there was a spontaneous revival among the youth. One rebellious young man had been converted after listening to a street preacher in Vancouver. Then his conscience was troubled about things he had done in his home community and his new Christian friends told him he needed to go home and make things right. So he did. Soon others of the youth were making confessions to people they had wronged, paying for gas they had stolen from farm yards, paying for things they had shoplifted from stores. The pastor of the church was very supportive.

Finally the elders of the church dismissed the pastor, they couldn’t stand to have so much enthusiasm in the church. It is much clearer to me today than it was at the time that the pastor failed in his responsibilities, but not in the way the elders thought. These young people needed a mentor, someone who could discern the leading of the Spirit from its counterfeits. But this pastor was a cheerleader, not a mentor.

I remember the Western Canada revivals when a movement swept from city to city, touching most evangelical churches. The message of this revival was that if a Christian had known sin in his life, God could not bless or use him. That was good and true, as far as it went. But what about those church members who thought they were Christian but had never come to a genuine repentance and new birth?

I knew people from many of the evangelical churches in the city where we were living at the time and the thought occurred to me that the message should apply to the churches as well as to the members. There were questionable things happening in all of those churches. How can God bless a church that tolerates known sin?

In recent weeks there is much chatter in Christian media about what appears to be a genuine movement of the Spirit among students at a Christian college in Kentucky. The movement has been quiet and peaceful and the school administration has endeavoured to keep it that way. When some enthusiasts showed up blowing shofars (ram’s horns used in Jewish ceremonies), they were asked to leave. When certain well-known personalities showed up, hoping to claim some of the aura for their personal ministries, they were denied access to the mikes. So far, so good.

The movement is spreading. What shall we do if it shows up in communities near us? My conviction is that we should not criticize, nor attempt to stifle or quench the work of the Holy Spirit. That implies that we need the discernment to prove what is actually of the Spirit and what is imitation, or possibly the work of foreign spirits. We can be assured that wherever God is working the devil will show up with counterfeit works.

Secondly, these young people need mentors who are sober and well-grounded in the faith. If we can help, in even a small way, let’s do it. But let’s do it in a way that does not lead us to critical feelings toward our own brotherhood.

Quench not the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God (1 John 4:1).
But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing (Galatians 4:18).
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church (1 Corinthians 14:12).

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