No One Can Say
It was a Wednesday college morning. I was twenty-two, brand new to the Charismatic Renewal, and thrust into its leadership. I was reading Scripture and praying –preparing for the prayer meeting which I was to lead that evening in the parish student center. I was stymied by the third verse in the twelfth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, where he "wrote “…no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.”
In my naiveté, I understood that verse on a literal level, that it was saying, a Godless person could not utter the words ‘Jesus is Lord’. Perplexed, I wondered, “But what if that Godless person were a liar? Could he not then say ‘Jesus is Lord’? My first class was starting soon, so I had to leave that verse to be explored later.
After my last class, I stopped my bike to watch a crowd gathered around this guy who called himself Jesus. I had seen him on campus before. He dressed like Jesus as did his band of disciples. He had a grandiose persona. His words sounded profound, but they were so ethereal as to escape meaning. Some in the crowd were clearly impressed, most taunted him. He fed on it all.
That evening, the prayer meeting was filling up most of the student center, with a only a few seats open in front. I nervously prayed for the Spirit’s help to lead. We had a time of joyful praise and song, and just entered into a time for quiet listening, when “Jesus” and his motley band burst through the doors. They came up front and took the empty seats. All eyes were on him. He promptly began a meandering tirade.
I was stunned. I had no experience in leading prayer meetings, and was at a total loss on what to do. I could only plead God’s intervention. Then a most extraordinary thing happened –that verse from Corinthians just popped into my mind, and without thinking, I blurted out to the imposter, “Can you say that Jesus is Lord?” He stopped short; his eyes became as big as saucers. He stood up, whirled around, and marched out the door with his troop in tow.
I cannot remember the rest of that meeting, forty some years ago, but I can never forget the power that was released in God’s Word that night. My childish interpretation of Scripture was not a problem to God. Nor could my inexperience hinder the Holy Spirit’s shock-and-awe response to that imposter. God was not deterred by my lack of qualifications. He uses whoever is available and willing. The true Son of God was exalted that night.
My understanding of Scripture has grown since those early days –not in a linear manner according to the passing years, but relative to my willingness to obey it. Only in submitting my mind to it, does God’s Word open its doors for my heart to enter. Wisdom finds no home in the proud, and a broken and humbled heart is irresistible to the Spirit of God.
This, I believe, is the essence of 1Cor 12:3. No one can proclaim that Jesus is Lord, whether it be of their own life or of all that is, unless they have personally known the touch of his Holy Spirit and have given their lives over to it. This is what it means to have Jesus as the Lord of our life. And to live with Jesus as our Lord, requires of us to be “under the influence of the Holy Spirit.”
This is why Jesus said he must leave; so that he can send the Paraclete; so that he could release his Holy Spirit; so that we can understand all that he has said; so that we can receive the Power From On High to overcome every obstacle to his plan for us. Everything Jesus did and lived for was toward this one goal –that every Believer would experience Pentecost; that all who call upon the Name of Jesus would be baptized in his the Holy Spirit; would be immersed in his Power and Love- that, having experienced it, we may be witnesses to it.“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.”