Christ-Focused or Holy Spirit-Focused? – Clay Peck

Some time ago I heard part of a conversation. Someone who had attended Grace Place was now looking for another church—probably inclined toward a more charismatic environment—and they came back to visit here and were expressing frustration in trying to find the “perfect” church. They said something like this: “I’m looking for more Spirit…but in the charismatic churches I’ve gone to I don’t hear the gospel with the same clarity as I’m used to here…and I want both. I can’t seem to find the ‘perfect’ church.”



I’ve heard something like that a few times over the years. I want to say three things about that:



1. I never want to be a pastor, or lead a church that is devoid of the Spirit. May God help us to never quench the Spirit or ignore his promptings or to seek to run our lives or our church independently, through human strength alone.  I long for and pray for more and more of the outpouring of the Spirit in my life and in our church!



2. Some people equate the presence of the Holy Spirit with how emotional they feel. It is important to understand that faith is believing the truth, not feeling something. There can be wonderful feelings associated with faith, but feelings come and go. Faith is steady and ever increasing. Too much emphasis on feelings leads to manic-depressive Christians—up and down all the time. We want our worship times to be energetic and joyful and encouraging—but church is not just a hype session or a pep rally to fire you up so you can try and run on the steam all week!



3. It seems to me that a church cannot primarily focus on Christ and the Holy Spirit both! Yes we believe in the trinity, the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—three in one, all worthy of worship. But I believe that the Bible tells us that our primary attention and focus should be directed toward Jesus. Jesus is the member of the Godhead who was eternally elected to be the Savior and primary communicator of the Godhead to humanity—“the Word made flesh.” He is the one who took on human flesh and nature.



The Father is the leader and initiator, but he has delegated all authority to Jesus.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18



And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:22-23



And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:18



When Jesus ascended to heaven he promised to send the Holy Spirit who has an important role in our life as “counselor” and “teacher” (Jn. 14:26), convicting us of sin, righteousness and judgment (Jn. 16:8), and a “guide” into “all truth” (Jn. 16:13). But the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to point to Jesus. He will “remind” of what Jesus has said (Jn. 14:26); he will make Jesus’ presence real to us (Jn. 14:18); and Jesus said regarding the Spirit:



But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. John 16:13-15



The primary role of the Holy Spirit is to point to Jesus. What happened when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost? The apostles spoke in different languages. Why? So that everyone could hear a message. What message? That Jesus Christ was the Messiah, that he had been crucified for the sins of the world, and raised back to life in victory. Three thousand souls were pierced in their consciences as they understood the gospel and were saved and baptized. That is the result of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring—a focus on Christ and his cross, leading to repentance and salvation.



Biblical worship is portrayed as Christ-centered.


In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:12



We worship God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We direct our prayers to the Father as Jesus taught and worship him, for Jesus made him known. But worship is not presented as Holy Spirit focused, for his role is to point us to Jesus!



And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:18-20



…continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel… Colossians 1:23



Whatever else you look for in a church—make sure you hear the gospel preached and can discern a clear focus on Jesus Christ and him crucified.