Speaking at this week's Desiring God conference for pastors in Minnesota, U.K. Pastor Tope Koleoso encouraged church leaders not to sidestep the supernatural in the Christian faith and ministry, but to rightly understand and exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit while shunning fanaticism.
Commenting on the title of the message, "Sovereign Grace, Spiritual Gifts and the Pastor: How Should a Reformed Pastor be Charismatic?" Koleoso joked as he began to speak, "Only John Piper could write such a title." He laughed, shaking his head, and added, "It's not a title; it's a paragraph."
The assumption underneath is, it can be done, it must be done, said Koleoso, who leads Jubilee Church London in the U.K. and was a speaker for the Desiring God 2013 Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis. "If the Gospel has power, this is not optional."
Koleoso read out Acts 13:1-12, and asked why would anyone who is Bible-believing, Christ-centered and theology-loving be hesitant, cautious or resistant to the Holy Spirit? It is perhaps, fear, he suggested. Sometimes it's rational, and sometimes it's because some people are abusive and hurtful in the name of the Holy Spirit. Fanaticism is at times mistaken as spirituality.
In Mark Chapter 1, after the Spirit came upon Jesus, He went about teaching, preaching, healing and delivering people from evil spirits. However, the church in the West wants to do only two things: teach and preach. They shy away from healing diseases and delivering people from demonic influences.
"You came into the kingdom supernaturally; you're going to be sustained in the kingdom supernaturally," Pastor Koleoso reminded the pastors. There are consequences if pastors do not teach about the power of the Holy Spirit and how to access it, he warned. "If we don't pursue the things of the Spirit the way that the first century Christians did, we'll end up preaching an anemic … diluted … deficient … even a destructive gospel."
In the West, we've become pragmatic and natural-thinking, said the Nigerian-born Koleoso. "We're called to something deeper." It takes integrity and humility to say, "Lord, help us."
In Acts Chapter 1, the disciples were told to wait for the Spirit who would give power to make them witnesses. "Early church knew nothing of just going out without waiting." Jesus has asked His followers to make disciples, but we are not doing it, Koleoso added. But in the early church, Christians did not know discipleship that was apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Without the Spirit we will become legalistic, trying to follow God in the flesh, he warned. And just because a church is growing numerically that does not mean it's of God.
Sometimes there could a problem from the very beginning if we are not called by the Spirit, Koleoso suggested. Going to seminary cannot be equated with God's calling. And the Spirit needs to constantly direct us in the ministry. "Preaching is not a talk; it is much more than that."
Koleoso also suggested some pastors may not have the resources to deal with demonic situations in their churches. "You cannot theologize Satan away; you cannot lecture him away … You need the power of the Holy Spirit to address those situations … This is a supernatural calling; the whole thing is supernatural."
Whether you are charismatic or reformed, you have to be filled with the Holy Spirit daily, the pastor emphasized.
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? "It means to be restored to the initial intention so that you once again have the relation and resources." It's imperative, not a choice, he said. And we have to continue to be filled. "No one can say, 'I've got it; I've got it all.'"
He also spoke about the atmosphere that is required for the gifts of the Spirit to be functional.
The first question pastors must ask themselves is who the service is for, Koleoso said.
Everybody and all books are about mission these days, he went on to say. But that must not be at the expense of God, he warned. You can't go for mission without inquiring on God. "Our meetings are first of all about God … You love His presence, you want His presence you cry for His presence, you're praying for His presence; not praying that your sermon goes well."
When you have that atmosphere, "things begin to happen … He begins to speak to the people … give gifts to them … the gifts begin to come forth … the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, prophecy, tongues, interpretation, gifts of healing, gift of faith."
Koleoso encouraged the pastors to buy Terry Virgo's Spirit-Filled Church, to learn about the presence of God, and to buy Sam Storms' The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts.
The pastor concluded by saying, as Paul said, let everything be done in a decent and orderly manner. This means there has to be leadership in the church. The freedom in Spirit must not surrender to fanaticism, our openness to the Spirit must never violate the Word of God, and our expression of joy must never degenerate into mere excitability.