As we lead our churches to grow in the fellowship of the Spirit, we must remember that the Holy Spirit always glorifies the Son. The primary role of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the Savior and to testify to the gospel. Our pneumatology must never take precedence over—and in fact cannot be understood apart from—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let’s avoid adopting the Corinthians’ erroneous definition of spirituality. They equated maturity with giftedness, spirituality with the spectacular. They thought of themselves as “people of the Spirit,” yet they lacked the primary evidence of the Spirit’s work: love. This is why Paul labors to redefine spiritual maturity for them in both of his letters. D. A. Carson summarizes Paul’s point:
What it means to be “spiritual” is profoundly tied to the cross, and to nothing else. More precisely, to be spiritual, in this passage [1 Cor. 2:6–16], is to enjoy the gift of the Holy Spirit—and this means understanding and appropriating the message of the cross, “God’s secret wisdom.” . . . Indeed, those who are most mature are most grateful for the cross and keep coming back to it as the measure of God’s love for them and the supreme standard of personal self-denial.¹
What does it mean for your church to grow spiritually? They must become always more grateful for the cross, always returning to Calvary. Let the glorious truth of Christ and him crucified define maturity for your church. Let us foster an appreciation for the broad work of the Spirit and pursue the Spirit, ever and always with Calvary in view.
The Holy Spirit unfailingly testifies to Christ. Let this be the work of the Spirit that we treasure the most.
The concluding sentence of 2 Corinthians provides a wonderful summation of the pastor’s priorities. Here Paul shows us that it is the character and work of the triune God that define and shape the heart of pastoral ministry.
May this definition of pastoral ministry govern us and guide us. May this triune priority be the increasing experience of each of those entrusted to our care. May the Lord equip us to passionately proclaim the grace of Jesus Christ, faithfully teach the love of God the Father, and consistently cultivate the fellowship of the Spirit. What a privilege we share in caring for, serving, and leading those the Savior “obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Pastor, take this Trinitarian benediction and pray it for your people, desire it for them, pronounce it over them, and labor to see it take root in their hearts. Do everything you can to position them to experience all of this, and nothing less.
This post is part of an 11-part series, The Pastor and the Trinity, excerpted from the chapter “The Pastor and the Trinity” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor, ©2010. Used by permission of Crossway.
¹D. A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 62.