“Our greatest danger, I feel today, is to quench the Spirit. This is no age to advocate restraint; the church today does not need to be restrained, but to be aroused, to be awakened, to be filled with a spirit of glory, for she is failing in the modern world.”
How do we theologically quench the Spirit? I want to suggest five areas in which we are (or might be) quenching the Spirit of God and attempt to respond to each biblically.
The first way that we quench the Spirit is —
I. WE FAIL TO BE BEREAN BELIEVERS!
We read of the Berean believers in Acts 17:
10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
When we allow other fallible, fallen, finite men and women to do our theological thinking for us, we are failing to be like the Berean believers. Notice that their eagerness to receive the message Paul was preaching was not eliminated by their commitment to check out his teachings with the Old Testament Scriptures. It is always right to test what we hear, read, or see with what God’s Word actually says.
In a fascinating essay entitled “There Is No Substitute for Theology,” A.W. Tozer compels us to be engaged with the Word of God. He writes:
“Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion.”
Confusion is a pretty good description of much that marks today’s contemporary church. We are often blown hither and yon by every new book advocating someone’s experience of visiting heaven or hell (or somewhere inbetween), by the latest video series which challenges us to our best life now (instead of being willing to suffer for Jesus), by the latest Christian celebrity de jour who is attacking Christian orthodoxy and never seems to lack a receptive audience.
Like the Bereans, we need to utilize the Word of God as our touchstone for all we believe, for all we teach, for all we embrace. If the Word of God is the Spirit’s primary tool of sanctification (see John 17), then it must be our primary tool of evaluating all ideas, systems of thought, pronouncements of “truth.” (to be continued)
1. Why do Christians fail to test what they hear and read with the Scriptures? Is it simply because it is work to do such testing?
2. How central in your thinking are the Scriptures? When you hear a new idea or a innovative thought, do you ask, “What does God’s Word say about this?” Why or why not?