Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” has been writing a lot of good, thought-provoking posts lately. I really enjoyed his post called “We Really Can Trust the Holy Spirit.” His post is about the work of the Holy Spirit when we are gathered together with other believers – whether it is a gathering that was planned or unplanned.
There is often disagreement among the church today about what role “preparation” and “spontaneity” should play when we gather together. Should we plan what we are going to say (i.e., “when you come together, each one has a hymn, an instruction, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation”)? Or do we speak when the Spirit spontaneously directs us to speak (i.e., “and if the Spirit reveals something to someone sitting…”)? Both passages that I paraphrased are in the same context in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. So, both preparation and spontaneity seem to be in view in Paul’s instructions.
This is what Eric says:
I’ve found that the Spirit tends to use our planning/preparation in the gatherings, but this may be in ways that we could not predict. For example, I plan to study over a passage of scripture tonight. I may mention it tomorrow or I may not. I really don’t know. The Spirit will make it clear to me tomorrow whether or not I should speak about it.
It is fascinating the way the Spirit frequently brings things together as Christians gather. It happens time after time in our small fellowship. One person will read a passage that relates exactly to what someone else is going through in life. We might sing a song that has a connection to what someone else is dealing with. The list goes on and on.
So, do we prepare before we gather with other believers? Sure. Do we expect and depend on the work of the Spirit when we gather together? Yes. (Although, I do think there is a problem when someone studies ONLY to have something to say when the church gathers.)
Like Eric said above, as the Spirit guides us outside of our times together, he can also guide us during our times together. We may come together with other believers expecting (and even prepared) to say something or teach something, but that may not be what God has planned. So, we trust him to know when to speak as well as what to speak.
Like Eric said, we really can trust the Holy Spirit.