Don’t Get, Be Gotten
Perhaps the best way to ‘get’ the doctrine of the Holy Spirit right is not to seek out what fits neatly into one’s worldview, but to be so completely ‘gotten’ by the Holy Spirit that one’s worldview and all the rest are entirely subject to His will.
Scripture seems to emphasize that as we seek to align our doctrine to the sound doctrine and the whole counsel of Scripture we must also seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Titus 1:9, 2:1, Acts 20:27)
True knowledge of the Spirit requires being.
According to John Owen, the Holy Spirit was given to man so that sinful man may be saved to the praise of the glory of God’s grace. This is perhaps the best way to ‘test’ whether a work or a knowledge is of the Holy Spirit, not whether it is impressive to the senses, but whether it effectually saves sinners and glorifies God. (John 16:8) And for this single purpose (the latter) the Spirit dispenses gifts to the church, for the “common good” as defined by God. (1 Cor. 12:7-11)
But the “common good” should not be defined by man. This is an often neglected point, overlooking what the LORD himself said of the Spirit:
He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:14)
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (John 15:26)
In other words, the glorification of Christ is the ultimate end of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
But is it ours?
What is supposed to unite the church is what is often abused to divide the church. Some have taken the liberty to exalt one spiritual gift over another, while others strip the gospel of its power by reducing it to any other academic discipline. Some have even thought its denominational distinctness is its standard of righteousness. But these are just works of the flesh.
John Owen’s exegesis is worth heeding:
For though the letter of the Scripture and the sense of the propositions, are equally exposed to the reason of all mankind; yet the real spiritual knowledge of the things themselves is not communicated by any, but by the special operation of the Holy Spirit: ‘For the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God’, and they to whom they are revealed by him.
The Spirit desires unity (Eph. 4:3) and freedom from the flesh (2 Cor. 3:17), both of which are offered to us in Jesus Christ for his glory. But this we will truly know only if we are truly filled, i.e. if we know by being.
J. Robert Clinton wrote on a related note, “Ministry flows out of being.”