The Holy Spirit Working in Your Church’s Worship Service Doesn’t Always Mean You Will Experience Something Extraordinary

“Our church’s worship is pretty formal, but I prefer Holy Spirit-led worship.”

Such was a comment I overheard recently by a young evangelical describing his church’s worship service, illustrating a very common perception by many evangelicals today—if the Holy Spirit actively works in worship, the results will be something extraordinary, an experience “quenched” by too much form and order. A common perception, to be sure, but how grounded in Scripture it this expectation concerning the Holy Spirit’s work in worship?

Arguably, the default expectation of contemporary evangelical worshipers is that the Holy Spirit works in worship in such a way so as to create an extraordinary experience, well expressed in the popular worship song by Bryan and Katie Torwalt:

Holy spirit, You are welcome here Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Ultimately, current expectations concerning the Holy Spirit’s work in worship must derive, not from experience, but from Scripture. Taking all of the biblical data concerning the Holy Spirit’s work throughout biblical history into account, there is no doubt that he sometimes works in extraordinary ways. Yet extraordinary works of the Spirit are not the ordinary way God works his sovereign will through the course of biblical history.

Rather, the ordinary work of the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture is better characterized, not as extraordinary experience but rather as an ordering of the plan and people of God.

Considering all of the normal ways the Holy Spirit works to bring order through biblical history provides a robust picture of what should be the expectation for how the Holy Spirit works in worship. First, his purpose in all he does is to bring order, to both individual Christians and to the Body as a whole. The descriptions in Scripture of the Holy Spirit’s activity overwhelmingly attest to this purpose, and this purpose would most naturally extend to his work in corporate worship. He worked to bring peace and blessing to Israel as he dwelt among them in the OT Temple, and he does the same as he dwells within the NT Temple. This was his purpose in the foundational gifts he gave to the apostles and others during the formation of the church, and even if those gifts continue today, their purpose remains the same.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Scott Aniol