Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
– John 6:28-31
“We must not allow ourselves to get caught up in pursuing the more spectacular demonstrations of the Holy Spirit’s power. To do so is dangerous. Jesus warned the people of His day against the same thing. They became enamored with His ability to do the unusual. Finally, they just came right out and asked Him how they could get in on the action [John 6:28]. In His answer, Jesus pointed them away from the spectacular and back to the main thing [John 6:29]. That didn’t satisfy them. They wanted to see more miracles. They had lost sight of the purpose behind the things Jesus was doing. So they tried to con Him into performing another wonder [John 6:30-31].
“Like so many today, they were sidetracked by the unusual. But Jesus refused to use His power – God’s power – to satisfy man’s vain curiosity. Jesus pointed them back once again to the real issue – who He was, why He came, and how to enter into eternal life.
“Jesus would not allow Himself to be reduced to a circus act. …
“The Holy Spirit’s power cannot be harnessed. His power cannot be used to accomplish anything other than the Father’s will. He is not a candy dispenser. He is not a vending machine. He is not a genie waiting for someone to rub His lamp the right way. He is holy God.”
– Charles Stanley, The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life
Our Sunday school class is still going through a Bible study of the Holy Spirit. We are actually using a study guide written by Charles Stanley, but when I saw the quoted book in a used book clearance sale, I had to study deeper. As stated a few days ago, I could almost quote from every page, the above quote covered parts of three pages.
I have mentioned before that Jesus did not perform parlor tricks. Stanley calls it ‘a circus act.’ This instance in the Scripture above is one of those times. Near the end of His ministry, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they will only get the sign of Jonah.
The Holy Spirit is Holy God. He dwells within us as our Counselor and Advocate. Jesus says that with a very small amount of faith that we can rearrange the landscape, tossing mountains into the sea. But our power is limited by the nature of the Holy Spirit. He only does the Father’s will.
Stanley also talks of the Holy Spirit not being a candy dispenser, vending machine, or genie in a magic lamp. In each of those false metaphors, how does man get what he wants? The candy dispenser has some kind of a crank or lever to push, pull or twist. The vending machine has a coin slot to fill with coins. (Yeah, modern ones have a slot for folding money and another for credit cards, but let’s keep it simple.) And to get the genie to do our bidding, we must rub the lamp.
See the commonality? In each case, we want something. We do something. We get God to serve us by giving us what we want. God does not perform a circus act or do parlor tricks to please us. We serve and worship God. It is not the other way around.
But if we really believe that we serve God and God does not serve us, why are we still pushing, pulling and twisting knobs on the candy dispenser? God promises us that He will supply our needs, but we want more. There is an inherent problem with wanting more. Our ‘needs’ is a finite concept. Our ‘wants’ can, and usually does, become infinite. Why do so many lottery winners lose it all? They spend an amount of money that is more than they could imagine, thinking it infinite – but it is not. The millionaire never stops at a million; he keeps making more. ‘More’ is the word Satan uses when he pulls out the ‘Greed Card’.
But there is one prayer to the Holy Spirit that uses the word ‘more’ that He is most willing to fulfill.
Dear, Lord, I want more of You. I want to be made more like You. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.