Format: Sound Plus Doctrine PodcastDownload Session
This episode of Sound + Doctrine is the fourth of five focusing on what really matters to God in our Sunday gatherings. Devon Kauflin joins us as we talk about the importance of our meetings being Spirit enabled and empowered.
Scriptures referenced: 1 Cor. 12:7, 11; Eph. 5:18-20; Phil. 3:3; Jn. 4:23-24; Jn. 14:15-20; 1 Cor. 14:24-25; Eph. 3:20; 1 Cor. 9:12-15; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Cor. 12:3
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David Zimmer: Welcome to the Sound Plus Doctrine podcast. This is David Zimmer.
Bob Kauflin: And I’m Bob Kauflin, and we are here with my son, Devon Kauflin. Devon, it’s great to have you.
Devon Kauflin: Always good to be here.
DZ: Wonderful to have Dev here.
BK: It’s always good to have you. We have been in a series, and I don’t know if this is… We’re actually releasing this in the series, but this is the fourth part of a five-part series on just the core values of congregational worship. We’ve covered that our gathering should be God-initiated and exalting, they should be scripture-governed and fueled, Christ-centered and Gospel-driven, and today, we’re gonna be talking about how our scripture should be Spirit-enabled and empowered.
DK: Or corporate worship.
DZ: Or gatherings, yeah.
BK: What did I say?
DK: Our Scripture.
BK: Our Scripture.
DK: I mean our Scripture should also…
BK: Our Scripture should be Spirit-enabled as well. Our gathering should be Spirit-enabled and empowered. I said that because I was thinking on how some of the earlier podcasts, I wish we had done more to just talk about where in Scripture these things are found, and we’re basing everything we’ve said on the Word of God. But today, I thought I’d start specifically with that, so our gatherings should be Spirit-enabled and empowered. Paul speaks about the gathering of the church in 1 Corinthians 12. He says, “When we gather in… ” verse 7, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Later on verse 11, He says, “All these gifts and activities and service are empowered by one and the same Spirit who apportions to each one individually as He wills.”
BK: Ephesians 5:18 talks about how we’re to be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. And Philippians 3 says, verse 3 says, “We are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” I mean, those are just some of the scriptures that we’re thinking about when we say that our gatherings need to be or are Spirit-enabled and empowered. So I’m gonna throw that question now.
DK: Bob, can I just…
BK: Maybe I’m not gonna throw question now.
DK: Well, you can in a moment.
BK: Okay, go ahead.
DK: But I just wanna jump on that.
DK: This ties into… We talked earlier about our worship as God-initiated.
BK: Yes, it’s the foundation of everything.
DK: And that, I thinks that it’s a difficult category. It can be a more difficult category to grasp, but this is just another way that it’s expressed. So the only way, if worship is God-initiated, that means our ability to worship is a gift from God.
DK: The only way that God gives His people gifts is through the Spirit. Every gift that God gives is given through the Spirit. And so all the passages you just read, they highlight that to some extent. I just wanted to explicitly state that’s the only way to receive His gifts, and this is one of those gifts that we receive. So corporate worship must be Spirit-enabled.
BK: Yeah, and to even think of this is humbling, as it is to think of the fact that our worship of God has to be initiated by God, it has to be enabled by God. We cannot come to God unless his Spirit gives us the means to do so, and the means He gives us is through Christ, through the preached word, through His presence with us that enables us to come before God with joy, with confidence, with boldness, and to meet with him, to interact with him. So that means a lot of things to a lot of different people. So I’d love us to talk a little bit about that, both the Spirit enabling us and then the Spirit empowering us. So Devon, if you were gonna talk about the… Maybe expand upon that, just which you did just a little bit, Spirit-enabled worship. How do we know if our times together are Spirit-enabled?
DK: How do we know if they’re Spirit-enabled? There’s a sense in which we can’t offer right worship to God if they’re not Spirit-enabled, so that’s the only basis on which we can. And so back to Jesus’s words in John 4, we worship in the spirit and truth. And there’s a lot behind that, but one aspect of that is this Spirit-enabled reality of the worship that we bring. I think of John 14, 16 through 20, and Jesus says this, He says, go back to 15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father and He will give you another helper to be with you forever.” And this is coming at a point where Jesus is saying, “I’m leaving you, I’ll no longer be with you, but this is gonna be better for you because you’re receiving the Spirit, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him, you know him for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see… See me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day, you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you.” And this all takes place by the spirit, and so this is the reality in which we can come to God, this is the reality through which we can see the king, it’s only by the Spirit.
DK: And so it’s one of those things, it’s like, does a fish have to be in water? Does our worship have to be spirit-enabled? There’s not another option.
BK: Right, right.
DK: And so then it’s our call to worship, as Paul does authorize letters with his recognition that it’s always the Spirit, and what that cultivates is a dependence. And so, I know at another point, we had talked about Paul’s understanding of his ministry, and there’s always this just evident dependence on the Spirit to work through him, there’s always this evident dependence on the Spirit speaking through him and the power of God being seen through this spiritual work.
DK: And we just… Everything that we do, we have to be aware of it, everything we do as we gather, everything we do in the Christian life, also. One of the things the Spirit does is it unites us to Christ, and that’s one of the primary ways that our worship is Spirit-enabled. So we can be in a relationship with God apart from who we now are in Christ. And we receive who we are in Christ through the spirit of adoption. And so the Spirit is this bond that unites us to Christ and gives us life in Christ, and now allows us to have access to God.
BK: Yeah, I think a lot of that the Spirit enabling aspect is, as you said, something that we need to realize more frequently. So it’s the Spirit, Romans 5, who sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts. It’s the Spirit who enables us to cry out Abba Father! . It’s the Spirit who reminds us of what Jesus said. It’s the Spirit who comforts us. And it’s the Spirit who gives out gifts and makes us aware of God’s presence. We can do many things in our corporate gatherings sometimes without any awareness, without any dependence.
BK: More depending on our plans than the fact that, no, the Spirit is really active in our planning, but also in our meetings. And so it should produce this dependence, I think, as well as this expectation that God really wants to reveal His power and presence in our meetings. So going back a little earlier in that passage in 1 Corinthians 12, Verse 4, Paul says there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are varieties of service, but the same Lord. There are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. Then he says to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. So I think one of the things that has helped us in Sovereign Grace Church is we have charismatic roots. We refer to ourselves as continuations right now, but because of some of negative connotations that can be had with the word charismatic. But we believe the Spirit really is active in our meetings. Now, what does that mean? Does that mean that weird things are gonna be happening?
BK: No, it means that he’s working in all kinds of ways that we wanna give him credit for. So when people give during the offering, that’s the gift of generosity. When people manage to get the children’s ministry in order and have everybody signed up at the right place at the right times and everything is in the right places, that’s the gift of administration. When people are greeting at the door, that’s the gift of hospitality. When the person… The pastor’s preaching, that’s the gift of teaching. There’s the gift of leadership. There’s the gift of faith as people pray for one another. I mean, there are all kinds of ways that the Spirit is working in our midst. And so yeah, it begins with that dependence saying, “God please, we need you to act through your Spirit in our meeting.” But then there should be this expectation that He will both in planned and in unexpected ways. So I think there’s both, but it’s just giving credit to whom credit is due.
BK: A great meeting isn’t the result of our great planning and execution. A great meeting, one that affects people and draws people’s hearts to Christ and renews their minds, is the result of the Holy Spirit working in what we do. And I think there can be… Yeah, and there are usually two… There’s two extremes. On the one hand, churches that just deny that reality, just maybe unintentionally. They just never talk about the Spirit’s work. It’s just… And the emphasis is on, did you plan? Did you work? Did you put in the effort? Did you put in the practice, rehearsal, study? Yeah. Okay. Okay, then we’re good. Without any awareness of need. And then the other side where, “No, don’t plan. You don’t need to do that much stuff. We’ll just kinda let the spirit lead and just kind of do what the Spirit does.” But neither side is biblical. God has given us His Spirit so that we might experience His presence, we might experience His empowerment, but it’s something that He wants us to cry out for and to expect as we gather.
DZ: Well, and he’s misrepresented so often in our gatherings.
BK: Yeah, yeah.
DZ: And the both sides you mentioned, it’s like either there’s no dependence on him, and so it’s like, “Well, is the Spirit really in our midst?” It’s our human effort. Or he’s misrepresented in all of these things he’s giving us. He’s crying out to Him, he’s falling on us, falling us, fill us, fill us.”
BK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
DZ: And so you have this misrepresentation, too. And both are helpful to figure out how is he enabling and empowering the gospel going forth in our midst.
BK: Yes. So I think that dependence is one of the ways we recognize that the Spirit is empowering… Enabling us to do what we do.
BK: It’s consciously expressing to the Father, thank you for your Spirit. To the Spirit. Spirit, thank you for being here to enable us to gather, to experience your love for us, the Father’s love for us, to experience unity in Christ. Thank you that you’re comforting those who are are going through suffering. You’re strengthening the weak. You’re giving faith to those who are doubting. This is all your work and we thank you for it. But I think because we place the… It seems as a common theme to these conversations. We place the emphasis so much on us that God kinda gets pushed out of the picture.
DK: Yeah. Yeah, the Spirit, I think just this dichotomy that we’ve… Or how we can fall off the horse where we neglect the Spirit, or there’s this idea that the Spirit has to be doing great things… The only way we know the Spirit is present is if these great, incredible things are going on.
DZ: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BK: It’s amazing.
DK: And it’s just God works through His Spirit always, and he does it mostly in very ordinary ways. They’re not ordinary, they’re supernatural, but they seem…
BK: He uses ordinary means.
DZ: Seemingly, ordinary.
DK: They can seem ordinary. And so what that looks like, I think, in practice is, I think about things like prayer. You mentioned some of the things we might do, but just in prayer, it’s just always expressing that dependence on the Spirit. It’s in… As we receive God’s word, it’s, “Spirit, open up our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of your word,” asking the Spirit to bring conviction, where a conviction needs to be brought. Just we want to speak of the Spirit in the ways that scripture speaks of the Spirit. And when we have our eyes open to that, there’s a lot of things that God’s word talks about the Spirit doing.
BK: Yeah. I think a lot of times our sights are too low for our meetings. I’m always drawn to the end of 1 Corinthians 14, where the unbeliever comes in… Everyone’s prophesying, however you might interpret prophesying. We would see that as receiving impressions from the Lord, saying things that point to Christ, that build up the church, “And the secrets of His heart are laid bare, and he falls down, he declares, ‘God is really among you.'” Do we ever think that God could do that in our meetings? Do we ever consider… Lord… Or do we ever pray that? “Lord, we pray today that unbelievers would so experience your presence in our midst, that they would just say, ‘God’s really among you,’ and come to Christ because of what you’re doing in us.” I don’t know if we pray that very often.
DK: But I think it’s important as an aside, they weren’t doing those things with that aim.
BK: That’s right, that’s right. They weren’t seeker-sensitive.
DK: This was just a by-product of the word of Christ once it’s dwelling in them richly, as they built one another up and edified one another and proclaimed the glories of God.
DZ: Yeah, that’s a good point.
DK: That’s when that happened.
DK: And I think that’s just another opportunity for us to depend on the Spirit. It’s the spirit that’s gonna bring about that regenerating work that allows us to see who God has revealed himself to be, and so we depend on that. And so we are faithful that God has called us to do, and God will do things like that.
BK: Yes. Well, I love what Paul says in Ephesians 3, “He can do more than all we ask or think through his power at work within us.” So we come to our meetings… I think sometimes we think of our Sunday meetings as just kind of a recharge, get what we need for the rest of the week, and then we kinda the charge drains out through the week, and then we come back for the recharge. I don’t know if we’re thinking, “God can really transform people in this meeting.” He can lift them out of a miry boy, out of the pit of destruction, like right now in this meeting, maybe not be every week, but we can certainly ask him to do that. And so people maybe who have been struggling with chronic pain, they might be healed. People who are struggling with lack of faith in a certain situation, God might give them faith and confidence and joy, someone who’s battling depression, for maybe because they’re… Well, there’s a lot of reasons for depression, so I’m not sure which illustration I should use here, but God gives them joy, he gives them joy in Him. He can do that, but that’s the work of the Spirit.
BK: So the Spirit is working in our midst to do those kinds of things, I think both in planned and unplanned moments. I think back to a recent Sunday where we sang, ‘Is He worthy’ by Andrew Peterson. And we ended up singing it again after the sermon, because it just seemed like the right thing to do, after we’d already sang another song. And the sense of God being with us was almost palpable, and a lot of people mentioned that, that was the Spirit’s work, that was the Spirit’s enabling, the Spirit’s empowering. It wasn’t because, “Well we had just picked the right song and we just had the right things going for you and… ” No, God was gracious, and he gave us a sense that he’s with us and how… It’s not surprising ’cause we’re singing how worthy Jesus is, which is what the Spirit comes to do.
BK: But that was an unplanned moment that, yeah, enabled the spirit to impress upon us the glory of Christ. But I’d be interested in you guys, and all of us actually talking about, what can we do to make our churches more conscious of the Spirit’s empowering presence? And we’ve mentioned one, I think, being grateful and praying, certainly. Anything come to mind?
DZ: I think as Devon… And have both of you have mentioned, just acknowledging our dependence throughout our entire gathering. There isn’t a moment where we feel like, “Well, the transition belonged to us, or this final thought or prayer belonged to us.” It’s a complete dependence from beginning to end. And if the Lord decides through His Spirit to use something that was said, either through a lyric that was sang, a testimony that was given, a prayer that was prayed, the preaching of the Word, that belongs to Him.
BK: Yes, yes. He gets the glory. He gets the glory.
DZ: It doesn’t belong to whoever it… And I just think… I just think that’s a big difference between, I guess, maybe more of the charismatic movement that’s wrestling all these emotions and desires that, “It’s about what they’re doing, it’s about how they’re doing it.” But as we’re talking, and we’re looking at scripture, we’re seeing Christ is the one doing this and he’s the one receiving the glory.
BK: Yes, yes. This is… Now, I was reading my devotions this morning, 2 Corinthians 9, and I was so affected at the end where Paul was talking about how the Corinthians had promised to give to the Macedonian offering, and Paul sent Titus to make sure that they would actually be ready to give it. And then he talks about what it’s producing. So their giving is a work of the Spirit. But he says in verse 12, the ministry… Let’s see, in verse 11, “You will be enriched in every way, to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” So that’s his first mention of it. “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of the service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ.” So everything they’re doing is rooted in the gospel. “And the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for His inexpressable gift.”
BK: And it just struck me how all that’s going on could be totally man-directed, people-directed. “Oh, you Corinthians, you’re doing such a great job. You said you’d give, and I know you’d give.” And Paul’s encouraging them, saying great things about them. And you’re the best. You guys are just… You are the givers among givers, and just… It’s amazing. But he just says, you know what, the grace of God that’s working in you is gonna produce thanksgiving to God in other people. And I’m gonna thank God for His inexpressable gift. And that’s what the gifts should do. We should have amazing meetings in the sense of an awareness God’s really with us through these ordinary means that He’s given us, but that’s the best thing going on. In the world, God’s working out His purposes in and through the church. That’s what Ephesians 3 says. He’s displaying to the principalities and powers that His wisdom is being worked out. His purposes are being worked out through the church. Who gets the glory for that? The Lord gets the glory for that.
BK: And that’s why it’s so important that we recognize our meetings are Spirit-enabled and Spirit-empowered. This is not about us. And that we pursue those things… I mean, I think that’s why Paul says, “Pursue the spiritual gifts. Of course, above all these, pursue love.” But pursue God’s working in and through you because it makes a difference. It matters. It strengthens the church. It points people to Christ. It builds you together. It does all these things that you cannot do on your own, so it’s where you fall on the cessationist, continuationist spectrum, but may this point land on you that we cannot be the church God means us to be, we cannot exalt Christ the way he intends us to exalt him without acknowledging that our meetings are enabled by the Spirit of God, and they are empowered by the Spirit of God. So it’s exciting to gather every week.
DK: Amen. Amen. Just thinking about Ephesians 2. I mean, Paul has this extended description of what has been done for us in Christ, and then concludes at the end of chapter 2, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself, being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” We think about, I mean, how the temple functions in the Scripture, and the temple is where God dwells.
BK: Dwelling place of God.
DK: So in Him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
DZ: Yes, amen.
DK: Only through the Spirit can we come, only through the Spirit do we come. And it’s through the Spirit that we experience this, this relational presence of God. And what a privilege that is.
BK: And I think it’s only in that context that gifts like the charismatic gifts, prophecy, tongues, healing, praying for people to be healed, they make sense. ‘Cause Paul said, don’t make a big deal out of those. Use them as the Lord gives them, but don’t make a big deal out of those. Be aware that the Spirit’s moving in all these ways. Be thankful for what the Spirit is doing. And then he even says in 1 Corinthians 12:3, I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says Jesus is accursed. And no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. Meaning, that the greatest miracle of all is the fact that any one of us can say Jesus is Lord. That he brings conversion, he raises the dead to life. And that’s the work of the Spirit. All the rest is just the Spirit continuing to work, but that’s the most amazing thing. And we gather as those whom, through whom, whom the Spirit has brought from death to life, to glory in God in the face of Jesus Christ.
BK: And what a privilege that is every time we meet.
DZ: Amen. And may the Spirit empower our gatherings. Thank you guys, and thank you for joining us.