Br Rd Don't put out the Spirit's fire - 8 June 03
Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire
1 Thess. 5:19
Many of the works of God are unstoppable and immutable. In creation, in resurrection, in judgement. Nothing can stand in the way of such works – and they give us cause for awe and amazement. But some of His works are of a different kind. He moves amongst His people with a gentleness and unobtrusiveness that also surprises us.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is sometimes like those first works of God – such a work was the coming of the Spirit at Penetecost – but mostly “His ways are ways of gentleness and all his paths are peace”. He comes quietly up to us and, like the time he spoke to Elijah on Horeb, He speaks with the voice of a gentle breeze. You might almost miss it.
In a way that does not surprise us – because we look at our Lord Jesus and we see how the Spirit came upon him and his ministry was described:
Matthew 12:17-21 (NIV)
17 This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 19 He will not quarrel or cry out; no-one will hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. 21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”
If you ask some people about the ministry of the Holy Spirit they will want to tell you about those gifts that are most evident – tongues, prophesying, interpretation, healing… Such gifts cannot be ministered without us noticing. But others will speak of a quiet INNER working of the Spirit – a personal awareness of the presence of Jesus brought to the believer by the Spirit of God.
In the verse before us this morning both kinds of ministry are suggested – but I want you to think in particular about that gentle ministry – almost unobtrusive – in which the Spirit brings “Christ to every soul, and mine”.
But Paul is most concerned that that ministry is being extinguished!
His words are literally : “Stop putting out the Spirit’s fire.”
It might to seem to some of us rather strange that The Holy Spirit can be frustrated in His desire to bring us the voice and message of God. We might wonder that He does not burst in on our consciousness and make us listen – but that is not His way – and it is sadly, and actually possible that we – like the Thessalonian Christians are “putting out the Spirit’s fire”.
This is a truly awful prospect – that God is communicating with us – and we are ignoring His words or treating His utterances with contempt.
I believe that we have to face up to this very serious possibility so that we can put it right and receive His ministry without hindrance.