From the Editor
Seeing in the Spirit
God’s invitation in a parched landscape
In a sea of memories of sermons, anecdotes and testimonies, there are some that stand out as profoundly teachable moments. Those that have pointed to intentional focus on God’s presence and power can be life changing. I recall one story of a couple who sought their pastor for marriage counselling. Instead of getting into the details of the problems in the relationship, the pastor began taking the couple on an in-depth journey of exploring God’s attributes. A sermon series was also started at the church with the same theme. Relational healing is not usually that simple for distressed spouses seeking marriage counselling, but in this couple’s case, the impact was a growing sense of unity between the two of them once they began to focus on God—learning more about what He is like based on the revelation of His characteristics in Scripture and His design in creation.
Pursuing God’s invitations in Scripture to a richer relationship brought a deep grounding for me. A new appreciation for the presence and power of God, and of His qualities, has tempered my past inclination to avoid uncomfortable circumstances, and settled me down to learn what He might be teaching me in the process. His quiet, reassuring Spirit challenges my human wisdom.
How does that shift in awareness begin? A few months into my journey with Christ, I recall being drawn to Psalm 63, and experiencing a longing for its words to come alive, somehow, for me, personally. I was not disappointed.
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah (Psalm 63:1-5)
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Emphasis mine.)
Throughout a landscape parched for truth, meaning, direction, and in many cases, comfort, Pentecostals can offer the gospel and experiential understanding of God’s present and active power at work in our world and in our own lives. God’s manifest presence cuts through the noise and weight that over-reliance on earthly thinking brings. Rebecca Manley Pippert notes: “Our task as Christians is to recognize and resist the distortions of advanced modernity and to live our lives in light of the unseen world, even while living in a culture that denies that such a thing is possible. We are to ‘live by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5 v 7).”1
Kenneth J. Archer suggests that Pentecostals have a distinct story which aids in their interpretive practices as they engage Scripture. “The Pentecostal community is a part of the larger Christian community and yet exists as a distinct coherent narrative tradition within Christianity. The Pentecostal community or a collection of communities is bound together by their ‘shared charismatic experiences’ and ‘shared story.’ The Pentecostal narrative tradition attempts to embody the Christian meta-narrative. Yet, because the Pentecostal community understands itself to be a restorationist movement, it has argued that it is the best representation of Christianity in the world today.”2 So with confidence, as we face a new year, we can approach all of Scripture with a keen focus on the activity of the Holy Spirit, noting how those manifestations resemble the way we experience God (or want to) in our lifetimes and circumstances, and discerning what He may be desiring to do in and among us today.3
In doing so, may we have a deepened appreciation for all God reveals and offers of Himself (Jeremiah 29:11-14), and in turn, share what we know with others.
This article appeared in the January/February/March 2023 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2023 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © istockphoto.com.
- Rebecca Manley Pippert, Stay Salt: The World Has Changed: Our Message Must Not (The Good Book Company, 2020), 67.
- Kenneth J. Archer, A Pentecostal Hermeneutic: Spirit, Scripture and Community (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2009), 133.
- The book Pentecostal Hermeneutics: A Reader, edited by Lee Roy Martin, presents various perspectives on a Pentecostal approach to interpreting Scripture, and can serve as a guide for bringing new, Spirit-focused life to our Scripture-reading journeys.