Thursday, August 17, 2017

Stop inviting the Holy Spirit to your church

Discernment-related articles are often controversial. After all, a discerning person will call some things "bad" that others might call "good" -- and vice-versa. These articles also tend to attract more readers due to the controversial nature of the content.

So, if you're new to the website: You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.

Whoops, I got ahead of myself.

There is a lot to say on the subject of inviting the Holy Spirit into a church service. I will do my best to keep my thoughts succinct and to the point. In order to lay a bit of a foundation for this conversation, though, it would be helpful for you to check out the video below.

If you want to get to the point, you can jump to the 5:14 mark and watch for a couple of minutes. If you'd like to start at the beginning or skip the whole thing, that works too.



If you've been attending church semi-regularly over the last couple of years, you may have noticed a change in the verbiage used by those who lead music (often called "worship leaders") when they pray. Due to songs like the one above and the popularization of bands like Jesus Culture, Hillsong, Bethel, and the like, some of those up front are now telling the Spirit that He is invited to join the believers in the service.

It's an interesting phenomenon. It's also a phenomenon that should stop.

Here are my main concerns about Christians inviting the Holy Spirit into a church service.

It's not biblical.
In Scripture, no person ever prays to the Holy Spirit. Bible readers find many examples of people praying, along with imperatives and instructions concerning prayer; however, never is there found any evidence that praying to the Spirit is good and right.

Jesus got specific when He taught on prayer. He instructed that His disciples pray to the Father (Matthew 6:7-9, 7:11) and to pray in His name (John 16:23-28). Never did Jesus teach that people should pray to the Holy Spirit.

Good Trinitarian theology may lead someone to respond with a statement like, "But the Holy Spirit is God and we should speak to Him because He hears us."

Although that is good Trinitarian theology, it is not complete Trinitarian theology. What does the Bible say?

Though it is true that the Holy Spirit is God -- He is eternal, He hears us, He is a Person -- it is also true that He maintains a specific role within the Godhead. The Savior said that the Spirit's role is to glorify Jesus (John 16:14). In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul explains how the Holy Spirit is the One who teaches believers the word of God, yet he never says that they should pray to Him. In 1 Peter 1:21 it says that the Spirit moved men along as they wrote Scripture, yet those Scripture-writers never instructed that people pray to the Spirit.

Instead of speaking to Him, Christians are told to walk in step with Him (Galatians 5:25) and to not quench Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Therefore, based on that short study, it would be biblically unwarranted for a person leading a congregation to ask the Spirit anything in their behalf. This is not to say that it's sinful to pray to Him -- it's just not biblical.

Still, one could make the argument from silence: Just because Scripture doesn't say we should, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't. This form of logic is never a good foundation for any practice that a person implements in his/her life; nevertheless, here are a couple of more concerns about inviting the Spirit into a church service.

It's not logical.
Good theology is derived from the Bible, and the Bible says that once a person believes in the gospel he/she is sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30). The Spirit indwells that the believer (1 Corinthians 6:19) and the Spirit has been poured out upon all true Christians (Romans 5:5, Titus 3:4-6).

Therefore, inviting the Holy Spirit into a place where He already exists is illogical.

Think about it. On a Sunday morning, churches across the globe are filled with people who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (the church is God's body, His people). This means when the people come together, the Holy Spirit is filling the building through the people He indwells.

Then a person stands up front on the stage and asks Him to show up.

What does this imply? At a minimum, it's just bad theology.

This leads to the important theological difference between indwelling and filling. After all, if every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit, why does Paul say that they should "be filled"?

This instruction was given not to imply that Christians may become un-indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but to assert that individual Christians need to re-subject themselves to His authority. Being filled with the Spirit (as opposed to alcohol) means to be under His control. As He works in the Christian to bring about godliness, the believer is called to yield to Him.

Now taking the mind back to the phrase in question, it's helpful to dwell on the word invite. Often, church leaders will "invite" the Spirit into a church service, as opposed to asking or summoning. Here's what the dictionary says of the word's definition: "To request the presence or participation of."

Someone can only request the presence or participation of another if he/she is in a position of authority or ownership. The invitee is always in subjection to the invitation-giver. After all, if the invitation hasn't been extended, the invitee would not have had opportunity to participate.

When man is the one inviting God to do something, he is putting himself in a position of authority and action. God is in subjection and passive. Not good.

In the New American Standard Bible, there are 25 instances that the Greek word kaleo (or a variation thereof) is translated into invite (or a variation thereof). All 25 occurrences are in the context of a person in a position of ownership or authority inviting those who would otherwise be left out.

When considering God's people and His Spirit, this phraseology just doesn't make sense. People are God's people because of His Spirit. The church exists because of the Spirit's work within them. He does not need to be invited. He is already there. Inviting the Spirit just doesn't make sense.

And even still, if all of that doesn't convince you, consider this.

It's mystical.
When I was a new believer I visited the local Christian bookstore in my hometown. I don't remember what I was buying that day but I told the lady at the counter what church I attended. She told me what church she attended. I then asked her what that church was all about and I'll never forget her response.

"We're [a little more] Spirit-filled," she said. I can't remember if she actually said "a little more" or if my memory added that in just to soften the blow.

I instinctively thought to myself, "And my church isn't?!"

But this tends to be the m.o. for charismatic churches: They place too much attention on the person of the Holy Spirit. I say "too much," because they go beyond His biblical role and they glorify His Personhood in a way that Scripture doesn't instruct. His job is to glorify the Son, remember?

The inviting of the Spirit into a church is unequivocally associated with the charismatic movement. At the heart of their plea is often a desire for a mystical experience, one that will send waves of people into another spiritual dimension of worship. They're asking for Pentecost + some.

Did you notice in the video above (if you started at 5:14) that the woman starts babbling incoherently? Did you notice all of the people raising hands (hopefully they're holy) and moving as though they've been overcome by a force? Did you notice that the one song goes on for 12 minutes? Okay, that's just a pet peeve.

When the Spirit is invited into the church service of a charismatic congregation, the expectation is that there would be a supernatural experience. The desire isn't for that of a life of progressive sanctification or for good conversations that morning full of wisdom or for humble attitudes -- all of which are truly supernatural. Instead, the desire is for an emotionally moving and jittery sensation often described as worship (that's a misnomer).

Inviting the Spirit needs to stop. More Bible reading needs to start. That's where we'll hear Him speak to us.

29 comments:

  1. So what are you expecting people to do? In the Bible there is no Teaching concerning how to handle or dealing with the Holy Spirit. Should we stop saying '' Holy Spirit you are welcome'' Holy spirit I invite you''? What do you understand about the free will? Nor God the Father, Nor
    The Lord Jesus neither the Holy Spirit can come closer to us if they are not invited. Do you agree with that?

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    1. There is all sorts of teaching in the Bible about the Holy Spirit, who He is, and how to relate to Him. Do your studying.

      And if you are born again, the Holy Spirit is already within you. Whether you subject, surrender or allow Him to guide you is another matter.

      The author explains this to some extent.

      Read the article fully then study the Word.

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  2. The true test comes outside of the service...away from the music, the mood, the swaying and the warm fuzzies. God (who is Spirit) goes where, when and how he wishes. He fills those who seek and Him and desire to live for Him...those who replace His will for theirs. In the Scriptures being filled with His Spirit is connected to wisdom (Exodus 31:3, Deut 34:9) the speaking of other languages (languages...not babble)...speaking the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31)...godly living (Eph 5:18.) Emotional swooning and babbling can be done in a certain created environment occupied by those who are who seek to create that atmosphere. It "feels" spiritual. The true Spirit led, Spirit filled person is one who is obedient and seeks a God honoring life, for that is the one whom the Holy Spirit seeks to fill.

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  3. ...come fill this place and fill the atmosphere??? Isn't Satan the prince of the powers of the air??? Hello?? I caught this on the radio when I first heard this......very scary!! People are swallowing it hook, line and sinker

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    1. I can't think of a better place for the Spirit of God to be at then where Satan is at. Since Satan and the prince of powers are in the air....come Holy Spirit and fill the atmosphere!

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  4. when I watch this all I can see is emotionalism and a GOD SHOW...no teaching through song or verbal Biblical instruction......so SAD, but then again, maybe some will wake up and see that this is wrong

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  5. Thank you for giving words we can communicate to our children and adult children, brother Jeremy this glorifies God in so many ways I wrote it out for my own, again thank you. D

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  6. Thank you. This song has been suggested for worship at my church and I had immediate concerns almost entirely for the same reasons you state. I'd guessed it came from Bethel and sure enough it did.

    It is a common thing these days to hear people invite the spirit to fill a rpom, which I agree makes no sense and is more mystical than Biblical.

    Aside from that, this is NOT a worship song full stop. It is a prayer maybe, but it doesn't seek to glorify God. In fact, as you point out, it suggests the spirit is under subjection.

    Oh, and aside from that, it comes from one of the worst new age churches around. Visit www.churchunitydeception.com to find out why this is not happening accidentally.

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  7. Just to expand on my last comment, how right you are also about the trend for repetition in somgs from Bethel, Hillsong and Elevation etc. It is turning worship into something more akin to meditation, mantras or the call and respond prayers of Catholicism and Anglicanism. This is abput putting people into a trance-like state where I fear they are more open to letting things in, much like in hypnosis.

    I have to admit that the first time I heard Hillsong do something similar with I Surrender I was carried away with the emotion, but that's basically the trick.

    And another issue is, do the congregation really believe what they are repeating? As I said, the modern protestant church seems to be returning to a very modern looking version of Catholicism where you chant stuff without thinking and where 'Christians' believe they go to church with no need or expectation of a change in their lives. This is fake Christianity.

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  8. I agree with the writer. I always wondered when tht Holy Spirit is in me, why do i invite Him every week? I can submit to His authority every day.

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    1. A lot of people have a misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit. When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, the Holy Spirit is then given to that person. It is our responsible to use the Holy Spirit like in the book of Acts. The whole purpose of inviting the Holy Spirit is for us to allow the Holy Spirit to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit from within us and then through us. Gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1. Word of Wisdom 2. Word of Knowledge 3. Faith 4. Healings 5. Miracles 6. Prophecies 7. Speaking in tongues 8. Interpretation of tongues 9. Discerning of Spirits which are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. I hope this clears up the confusion. The Holy Spirit is in you - that is correct. We should be inviting Him daily, meaning we should be operating in the gifts on a daily basis.

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  9. They call on Holy Spirit but surely it cannot be Holy Spirit who turns up, it's out of character for Holy Spirit. The scary question to ask is what is this spirit that comes upon such invitation?

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  10. You could have left your commendations out of it

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  11. My church started singing this song about two months ago and since then the song has been sung every single week. The words of the chorus caught my attention as they contain something false: "Holy Spirit You are welcome here
    Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere". The Holy Spirit is God. He is a member of the Trinity. Psalm 139 makes it clear that He is omnipresent. I don't see the need to invite Him as 1) the whole universe belongs to Him and He is everywhere in it 2) He is already made manifest in me a believer. So, every time the song is sung, instead of singing the words above, I sing: "Ho-ly Spi-rit you're alrea-dy here.... You're om-ni-pre-sent as the Fa-ther is....". Works for me.

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  12. This caught my attention for the first time today when on invitation to a Lutheran Church where the associate pastor in prayer before the congregation invited the Holy Spirit to come.....I thought "Wait a minute, I am indwelled with the Holy Spirit..."

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  13. Stuck theologians crucified Christ the Son, and they will raise their heads everytime his spirit is invited. I have nothing but a scathing rebuke for you guys. God is Spirit, and provided we walk to honour him and walk in the spirit there is nothing wrong with inviting his presence, the Holy Spirit and seeking to please the Father through him. We have received the spirit of adoption by which we cry out ABBA Father. The Spirit of God is also the Father spirit since God is one, Jesus by the way is called the everlasting father, he still refers to the Father as greater than I because the trinity is and will always remain a mystery. The Bethel bashing is uncalled for, I agree that we may have been excessive at times for which I make an apology as with the angel feathers. Overall I found the love of the Bethel teams we have received here in New Zealand indescribably good. Mature believers and filled and overflowing with the spirit. There have only been very few occasions where some people became manifestation focused. Actually the bhahavat gita even teaches us to focus on God while manifesting his presence e.g. with shaking etc. I have been in the new age prior to being a believer myself, happily kept my heart back from it but still under a curse at the time. Reviewing these scenes with the Lord subsequently he simply stated I had been under the influence of a false god. In his voice there was no sense of holding these things against me. Glad to be with him now, it is still his voice that guides me. I do have a divine hatred for idols as a result of this. I do agree that we can operate by faith that God is with us when we come together in his name, inviting the holy spirit I think makes it easier for some people to express their faith. I do recall inviting the holy spirit into my cousins house, he was enjoying GOD'S PRESENCE since. God specifically rebukes the Isrealites for limiting the Holy One of Israel.

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    1. I find it strang that you don't find anything wrong with a church that uses trickery of feathers falling and gold glitter coming from the HVAC vents. Also where in the Bible did Jesus heal someone and then they lost their healing? We are not little gods and we are not equal with Jesus. These are all teachings and deception of the Bethel Church and others.
      I pray that the Holy Spirit opens yours eyes to this deception through the Bible.

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  14. In some services at our church I sit closer to the front. Many of the songs that are sung are Hillsong or Jesus Culture. I noticed when I sit to the front I am drawn into the songs and so are those around me. If I sit to the back of the church I notice a different atmosphere and I look at the screens and think "what are we singing?"
    I just recently brought up the songs of Jesus Culture not being right to the Worship leader because of the teachings of Bethel church. I haven't gotten a response yet.
    Thankfully the Holy Spirit has led me to question this type of music.

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  15. God has given us the grace to approach the throne of grace, anytime with boldness!

    We do not have to invite God in any of our meetings, because Jesus Christ said, where two or three are gathered in my name, He will be present.

    People who are far away from the Lord, may have to invite the lost Presence of God by way of true repentance.

    But the people of God already have the Holy Spirit in them. We never extend invitation to those who are already present for the occasion.

    God is already present in the gathering, and so we who are His children by His grace, must thank God for the mercy shown unto us through the death of our Savior, Lord Jesus Christ.

    Glory is given to God for the eternal life given to us through Jesus Christ.

    The Holy Spirit primarily spreads the love of God into our hearts, exalts Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of those who believe in Him.


    When the Holy Spirit Himself draws our attention to Jesus Christ and not Himself, then we are resisting the Holy Spirit by in inviting Him in our gathering, when He is trying to enable us to focus on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

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  16. Thank you so much I have learnt a lot even though the comments

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  17. Can you recommend any decent, biblically faithful songs about the Holy Spirit?

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  18. I googled this topic because we had an out of town pastor/singer/performer pop in at a bible study last night that we usually open with worship which he led because the guy can sing but anyway he went on about the importance of inviting in the Holy Spirit and right away my spirit threw up red flags for the exact reasons you pointed out... It felt more like a sayonce then worship time... well written thank you

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  19. powerful. thank you. I am a pastor who is in the midst of a series on the essence of worship, and today I spoke about music and songs and unbiblical songs that we sing. Thanks for the article.

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  20. I have been seeking the Lord‘s wisdom today on more understanding of the Trinity and I came across your message, I also believe the Bible is clear on the Holy Spirit’s role and I believe that the great common denominator in the trinity is perfect harmony. I have been seeking wisdom about this because my daughter has recently gone to revivals where people have pushed these kids back and they’ve fallen and the people are prophesying about their future and even though my daughter comes back somewhat glowing I still want to teach her the truth only, and since the Bible clearly states that there is no truth in a lie we have to be very cautious when we consider the teachings Our children are exposed to today, because Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Thank you so much sincerely Dana

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    1. Just said a prayer for you and your daughter. God bless you!

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