You know what I'm doing this weekend? Finishing my FAFSA application. If things go as planned, I'll begin my third year of college this coming August. Nearly six years will have passed since I last went to school, but I'm totally psyched about going back. Any other adult students out there with me?
I love learning. I love it enough to pay someone to teach me. This may explain why I lasted as long as I did in my Baptist background. They may be stiff, they may be legalistic, they may even think it holy to listen to the worst music, but the Baptist church loves to teach the Bible. At four years old, I had already become bored with Sunday School and joined my parents in an adult class as they went through a video series on Francis Shaeffer's How Should We Then Live?
That church shared the gospel with me. I became a believer there. I got my first Bible from them. It was a good place. But when I described Sunday mornings to my classmates, a number of them had the same impression. "It sounds like school." Without saying so, I agreed with them.
Years later, for all sorts of reasons, I began my eighth grade year at an Assemblies of God school. If you don't know what that means, I'll leave it at this: It was a big change. They might have frowned upon social dancing and going to the movies, but they taught me the importance of God's presence in a church meeting.
I'd be a dope if I tried to compare myself to Paul, but I like to think Paul had a similar experience. He grew up as a Pharisee, lovers of learning and scriptural prowess. He studied and studied and studied, but he hadn't yet experienced the presence of God. And when he did, BAM, lights out.
But he didn't toss his learning away. He let the Holy Spirit give him wisdom to finally understand what it all meant. He explains some of this in 1 Corinthians 2:12-13. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."
When I first experienced the Holy Spirit, I thought to myself, "Why didn't I ever get this before?" I thought I was a smart kid. I had read the whole Bible. I won scripture memorization awards. But nobody ever brought up the importance of the Holy Spirit. The answer to my young question was this, I thought I was wise, but I was really a fool. I had relied on my intellect rather than the Spirit, thinking He would make me roll around on the floor and babble crazy words. I was the kind of person Paul described in the next verse, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised."
Now I experience God's presence on a daily basis. I've seen miraculous things. I've begun to understand the gifts of the spirit like prophecy and discernment. But more than that, the Bible came alive. I understood it in a more full and complete way.
And looking back on all of this, I wonder, what's the point of reading the Bible and going to church if the Holy Spirit isn't a part of it?