Neglecting the Spirit

Neglecting the Spirit

During the Dark Ages the two twin truths completely lost from view were the Holy Spirit and the Second Coming of Christ. Those two doctrines rise and fall together. Deny the truth of the Spirit and you discard the doctrine of the Second Coming. The result was perhaps the most depraved spiritual state the Western world has seen.

the Holy Spirit will not work without the truth of Christ.

As radical as the first coming of Christ was for the history of the human race equally as radical was the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We have more books today about the graces and gifts of the Spirit than ever, yet the church has neglected this doctrine the most. And when this doctrine is neglected, the Spirit’s presence cannot be recognized. Because the Spirit is the presence of Christ, he will not work without the truth of Christ.

So the Holy Spirit is silent in many churches today. He is silent in the church because of unrebuked sin. He is silent in the pulpit because of inattention to doctrine.

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is a neglected doctrine, a misunderstood doctrine, and therefore often a perverted doctrine. The Holy Spirit is referred to 90 times in the Old Testament with 18 different names, and about 260 times in the New Testament with 39 different titles. We must then take heed to the doctrine and ministry of the Spirit.

Satan wants us to minimize the Holy Spirit, and has two methods to pervert it: hiding the doctrine and falsifying the gifts.

2 Cor 3:7-9 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

The glory of the Old Testament law was glorious, but the Lord writes that the ministration of the Spirit much more exceeds that glory.  How could it be even more glorious? Why more so now? Because the Old Testament was the dispensation of the Father. He was at work for us. The gospels were the dispensation of the Son. He lived with us. But this is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit’s ministration, or administration.  He is in us. He is the “deacon” of the age, our Paraclete, or advocate.

The Holy Spirit gives aid and relief in the absence of Christ. The Father was for us, the Son was with us, but now the Spirit is in us. So it is spiritually disastrous to neglect what the Bible reveals about the work of the Spirit. We give preeminence to church work, social work, and mission work, but the only thing the apostles knew was the Spirit’s work. Why? Because it is the Spirit of God that enables us to challenge the spirit of the age.

No other aspect of truth is more important to our accomplishment of the eternal purpose of God in this age. Being ignorant of the Spirit and his gifts will only result in headaches and heartaches both personally and in our churches. Satan wants us to minimize the Holy Spirit, and has two methods to pervert it: hiding the doctrine and falsifying the gifts.

There are three characteristic marks of false teaching. It is a trinity of perversion, by which the foundations of every cult group are formed.

2 Cor 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

Watch the historical progression. In the early ages of the church Satan tried to bring the world to another Jesus, perverting the doctrine of Christ via Gnostic views of Christ and heretical cult concepts. Then in the Dark Ages he developed another gospel, as an alternative to the truth of being born again. Today he has revealed another spirit at the end of the age, to challenge the work of the true Spirit of God in the life of the Christian. What are the evidences of that other spirit in our age?

Another Spirit...

1) ...Gives a counterfeit inspiration to overthrow the Preserved Word of God and set false Bibles in its place (2Ti 3:162Pe 1:21)

2) ...Produces false prophets to overthrow the work of true pastors (1Pe 5:1-3)

3) ...Develops para-church organizations to replace the body of Christ (Heb 10:25)

4) ...Imparts lying “charismatic” wonders to divert a Christian’s concentration on getting a divine dynamic injected into every life situation (2Co 11:31Co 2:1-5)

Another spirit spawns seducing spirits, so much so that true doctrine must compete against the mythological and psychological lore of demons themselves (1Ti 4:1). By this method men and women depart from the faith.

Many people who have left us are now nowhere. They departed from the faith when they departed from our churches. This spirit of departure is behind spiritualism, and scientism, and therapeutic psychology, and interest in the occult. What we need is not to attack the spirit of the age, but to make a closer examination of the Spirit of grace that administers his aid in our age.

The thing you think most about is what exercises a transforming power over your life. Your focus determines your direction. So we need to think more about the Holy Spirit! Our aim should be to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the Spirit in such a way that it produces holiness. That’s why he’s called the Holy Spirit! It is not because he needs the adjective, it is because holiness is what he produces!

2Co 13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.  

The communion of the Holy Ghost is the missing element in most of Christianity today. The problem is, there is no authority without anointing, and there is none of the Spirit’s power without acknowledging his presence in prayer.

The purpose of my preaching is to empower people by creating faith in my hearers. I don't know why other pastors preach, but that's why I preach. I preach to create faith in my hearers, which will empower people by the Spirit. So no matter where we are in the Bible, the goal of my preaching is to empower you to fulfill God's Eternal Purpose.

But we've got a real problem today.

The sin of the Old Testament was the rejection of God the Father.

The sin of the New Testament was the rejection of God the Son.

And the sin of the church today is the rejection of the Holy Spirit.

We've fallen into that sin by two entrances: either escapism or extremism. Either we ignore the Holy Ghost, or we turn his anointing into a circus carnival—and by circus carnival I mean IHOP, World Revival Church, and Harvest Church International Outreach. Oh I said it, I meant it, and I’m here to represent it.

So the reason nothing supernatural happens in your life, in your daily walk and ministry, is because there is an ingredient you have neglected: the Spirit’s anointing! Why? Because there is no authority without the anointing. There is a biblical formula to define this relationship with the Holy Spirit in your life.


  • One baptism;

  • constant filling;

  • many anointings.

1 Cor 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

There is only one baptism of the Holy Ghost. It is initial and final according to 1 Cor 12:13 and Eph 4:5. The moment you are born again, you get baptized by the Holy Spirit of God into the body of Christ. One baptism, but constant filling.

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Being filled with the Spirit means you were full yesterday, but as you put your flesh to death and release more selfish desires, make sure you stay full of him today!

How do you do that? How do you get these things in your life today? How do you get the baptism of the Holy Ghost? How do you get the filling of the Spirit? How do you get the anointing?

  • The baptism you get as a result of being saved (see 1Co 12:13 above and Eph 1:13)

  • The filling you get as a result of being in the word of God (compare Eph 5:18-19 and Col 3:16)

  • The anointing you get as you acknowledge the Spirit’s presence in prayer (1Jo 2:27Eph 6:17-20)

2 Cor 1:21-22 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;

The anointing is a special clothing of the Holy Spirit to give authority for specific ministries. So how do we get it all done? If the anointing is a special enduement with authority for ministry, then that means we have resources. Those resources are called spiritual gifts.

Spiritual gifts are Spirit-energized abilities to enable us to function like Christ—for service within the church and for outreach to accomplish the mission. See Rom 12:6-81 Cor 12:8-10,28Eph 4:111 Pet 4:11. But check this!

1 Cor 13:8-10 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

There were passing gifts and permanent gifts. Passing gifts got this dispensation started, and will get this dispensation ended. They were passing gifts because they were only in operation until that which is perfect was come. Only two things are perfect: God and the word of God. Paul did not know at the time whether the word of God would be completed first or if Jesus would return first.

If Jesus comes back, you don’t need tongues to tell you what to do, and confirm inspiration, because Jesus is right there. But by the same token, if the word of God is completed, you do not need the supernatural gift of tongues, interpretation, or word of faith, knowledge, prophecy or healing.

What am I trying to say? If the gift of tongues is for today, you don’t need a bound Bible, you need a loose-leaf Bible! And if we are currently living in the age of the Millennial Reign , and you are convinced that you have the gift of healing, I want you to meet me at the pediatric cancer ward of Children’s Mercy Hospital today! But at the bottom line, Paul left Trophimus at Miletum sick (2 Tim 4:20) because even for him the gift of healing had stopped working by then. But Hebrew Christians will one day need those same signs to save them during the Tribulation, so stay tuned. Until that day, I beseech you, do not fall prey to those charlatans who are re-defining the character and working of our God.

So remember, the the work of the Lord is done with the gifts of the Spirit, and we know the work is accomplished when we see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. (The fruit of the Spirit are the nine manifesting evidences of the Holy Spirit’s control in making us like Christ before his return, Gal 5:22-23Col 1:10Rom 6:22John 15:16) Overcoming the sins of the flesh is always a replacement process, replace the sins of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. The church will only come into the fullness of it's potential when we realize who the Spirit truly is and what gifts he is using to build the church in our age.


Alan Shelby is the pastor of Harvest Baptist Church, a Living Faith Bible Fellowship church in Blue Springs, MO. Alan Shelby is also dean of the Living Faith Bible Institute.