You might be surprised to learn that Saint Andrew’s, the church where Dr. Sproul and I serve as pastors, has many members who have come from Pentecostal and charismatic churches. When they join our congregation I urge them not to leave behind the Holy Spirit. There seems to be a tendency for believers within some Presbyterian and Reformed churches to forget about the person and power of the Holy Spirit. Although historically this is not the case and although doctrinally it ought not to be the case, sadly it often seems to be the case.
As some Christians come to grasp the sovereignty of God and the covenantal manner in which the Lord works in redemptive history, they sometimes misplace the precious biblical doctrine of the person and work of the Holy Spirit in and through His people. And in doing so, their theology, evangelism, prayers, and worship suffer. While they know and can rightly defend primary causality (God is the primary cause of all things that come to pass), they seem to forget about the doctrine of secondary causality (God providentially orders all things to come to pass according to the nature of second causes in and through His creation and creatures). We know that God is sovereign over all and that He has ordained the ends, but we too often forget that He has also ordained the means to those ends (Acts 2:23). While it’s true that God knows the end from the beginning, He is also wisely and providentially orchestrating all things from beginning to end, both in the church and in the world, both in the natural realm and in the supernatural realm. The Holy Spirit empowers, equips, and emboldens those He indwells to pray, preach, evangelize, disciple, and even to die.
As we approach the great history of the church in the book of Acts, the question is often asked: Should we call this book the Acts of the Apostles or should we call it the Acts of the Holy Spirit? We could rightly call it both. Luke’s account, as does every historical account ever penned (whether explicit or not), shows forth the sovereign majesty of our triune God’s redemptive-missional activity in the world in and through weak and broken vessels like us, who by His grace neither can nor will leave behind the Holy Spirit who goes before us and dwells within us.
Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is cotranslator and coeditor of A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin.