- WEA General Assembly 2019
In the third of his four biblical reflections at the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly, C. B. Samuel emphasized that the Holy Spirit wishes to lead us into mission, not just give us an experience.
Samuel said that as a youth attending a Methodist church in south India, he was warned not to go near the Pentecostals, because “they have a kind of infectious disease that will come on to you and then you will fall or say strange words.”
That degree of suspicion has happily faded, but Samuel cautioned that defining a charismatic in terms of worship style or experience risks overlooking what it means to have the Spirit active in one’s life.
“There is more talk about the Holy Spirit now,” he said, “but we have domesticated him to be a spirit of entertainment and not one of transformation. The talk is all about the experience rather than missional engagement.”
As an illustration, Samuel recalled speaking to a charismatic group whose members said they didn’t have much time for engagement in mission. “I told them that then they couldn’t be charismatic,” he explained, “because the Spirit engages you in all areas of life.”
Samuel read Ezekiel 47:7–12, noting that the river that flows from the temple parallels the reference in John 7:37–39 to the Holy Spirit as “rivers of living water.” He interpreted the flowing water as signifying that the Holy Spirit is not under our control. “We have put the Holy Spirit in a box,” he said. “Often we are holding on to the box but the Spirit has left long ago.”
Citing the reference to fishermen spreading their nets in Ezekiel 47:10, Samuel commented, “Where the Spirit flows, there is useful occupation. God is a working God and he created us in his image. In the Kingdom of God, there is no place for lazy people. Some evangelicals think that work started with the fall, but this is not the case. So we should care about keeping people meaningfully employed.”
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