by Dr. Tony L Lynn
PLYMOUTH, MI – “Holy Scripture plus the Holy Spirit equals holy confrontation or holy transformation.”
Recently during a random conversation, I repeated the simple formula above to highlight my confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit and Holy Scripture to transform lives. During the decades, I’ve said simple things like, “Salvation is found in Jesus Christ, not Jesus Christ plus something else nor Jesus Christ minus something else.” I created those talking points because, in the past, I often found myself discussing spirituality with those who followed other religious paths. Out of deep concern for my friends’ spirituality, I would summarize the discussion with one Bible passage and a short memorable statement in their heart-language (Zarma, French, or English). I would entrust the persuasion and conversion to the Holy Spirit following up with prayer and further relaxed spiritual conversations.
Living in North America now, I surprisingly find myself using a similar approach with a Bible verse and a simple statement more frequently in my conversations among those who already follow Christ when it comes to clarifying theology and the application of Holy Scripture to life. I believe my tradition comes from seeing the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others around me during decades of ministry. I have seen the miracle of transformation in people who formerly knew nothing about Christ and within days, weeks, or months became spiritual warriors of evangelism and discipleship. So, can that same approach work moving a believer in Christ to a new, bolder level of dedication? I believe so.
Acts 4:29-31 (New Living Translation), “Give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the Word of God with boldness.
If I had to choose only one book of the Bible to read for the remaining days of my life it would be the Book of Acts. The words explode with divine power every time someone, in the face of adversity, fear, or persecution allows what little they know about Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and the sacrifice and resurrection of the Holy Son to radically embolden them to preach and teach Christ!
Haruna was the only believer in his village in the Niger Republic where I served for six years. Illiterate, Haruna would listen to sermons and lessons about Christ with dedicated attention. He would repeat Bible verses over and over embedding them in his memory. I was moved to tears when he told us about how, after his conversion to Christianity, his family and friends refused to talk with him or trade goods with him. Each week, Haruna would travel a half-day’s journey and conduct business elsewhere and meet other Christians then return to his home village to constantly repeat what little he had retained in his most recent Bible lesson. Haruna was unstoppable and lovingly patient waiting for others to come to Christ.
Richard, a Frenchman, became our friend in Paris as we were learning the language. Our frequent spiritual discussions seemed to swirl in circles like someone stirring brown sugar cubes into a strong coffee – a lot of motion without anything being absorbed; then, one day everything became clear. Richard dropped by after his workout at the Luxembourg Gardens, he perched on the edge of our small apartment brown sofa, and gushed, “I understand it all, now. I wanted to come by and let you know that I need to explain to my wife that I have become a follower of Christ. I received him today under a tree after my workout. I prayed just as you said and now, I understand.”
I could go on and on about dedicated men and women in Michigan who took on the task of leading established churches or creating new churches as lead pastors and wives. In their cases, it was not about the multiple volumes of books they read nor the long lessons or sermons they heard. It was their obedient response to some miraculous, divine moment where Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit called them to a new level of commitment or dedication or reset that transformed who they were.
Do not get me wrong. I believe in education, discipleship, sound preaching and teaching. I went to nine years of school after high school focusing on ministry improvement, but my pivotal moments of change and those pivotal moments I see in others are usually punctuated with an “AHA” experience that redefines the person. The ten prayerful words of Acts 4:29, “Give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word,” are the kind of explosions I want to hear myself speak repeatedly. I am confident that we can rely on Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit to get us through whatever is ahead of us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Tony L. Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.