Welcome, Holy Spirit!
Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood Tuesday evening stressed the Fellowship’s historical reliance on the Holy Spirit, while exhorting followers to keep Pentecostal practices alive in the future, in the opening keynote address at the 57th General Council in Anaheim, California.
Weaving a series of stories about the miraculous interventions of the Holy Spirit in the lives of leaders and laypeople in the 103 years of the Assemblies of God, Wood outlined five attributes the Spirit uses to assist Pentecostal believers in everyday life: friend, attorney, trainer, benefactor, and scout.
The Holy Spirit moves in the lives of 21st century Christians the same way He did at the beginning of time and over a century ago at the dawn of modern Pentecostalism, Wood declared.
“At this General Council, I pray that the Holy Spirit would hover again over us in a remarkable way, bringing order out of chaos,” Wood announced to a crowd of 6,600 (another 5,700 attended a separate youth service).
Wood noted that the Holy Spirit demonstrates intellect and feelings; makes decisions, speaks, testifies, teaches, prosecutes, intercedes, guides, and reveals; and can be tested, lied to, resisted, and insulted.
As a Divine Person, the Holy Spirit is eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, and present everywhere, Wood said.
“Our Lord Jesus was conceived by the Spirit, anointed by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit for ministry, and raised from the dead by the Spirit,” Wood said. “Ultimately we will be raised from the dead by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead!”
Wood described how the Holy Spirit is a friend. In his childhood, Wood confessed that he misunderstood that rather than a Person, he figured the Spirit was an “it,” and indeed somewhat frightening: the Holy Ghost.
Yet Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as Comforter, who helps alongside. Wood recounted how the Holy Spirit has empowered him to preach despite shyness, saved him from a fatal car crash, and encouraged him through a season of substantive depression.
“The Holy Spirit is a Friend of this Movement!” Wood said of the AG, which has more than 68.5 million constituents worldwide in 368,000 churches.
Wood likened the Holy Spirit to an attorney — a prosecuting attorney before people come to faith and a defense attorney afterwards. He recounted instances in which the Spirit helps followers in their weakness, interceding with groans that words cannot express.
As the young son of AG missionary parents in China, Wood described how his father went out alone on horseback to evangelize Tibetans, and how a tribal chief gave him a lethal dose of poison. Yet at that moment, Wood said the Holy Spirit awakened his mother, who prayed throughout the night in a language she knew and a language she didn’t know.
The Holy Spirit, as an Advocate-Intercessor, literally saved his father’s life, Wood said. He exhorted the crowd to engage in similar patterns of intercessory prayer to transform their neighborhoods.
“The Holy Spirit is calling for a new generation of intercessors,” Wood said. “It is time for the Church to wake up and impact this culture for Jesus! An unloving Church and an unkind Christian will never reach this world for Jesus.”
“Thousands of people have been saved, delivered, and housed,” said Wood, pointing out there now are over 260 Dream Centers around the world.
Wood urged listeners to be open to sacrificial, daring, and formidable adventures.
“Could it be at this Council that the Spirit is impressing you to do something extraordinary, something that on the surface seems impossible, even ridiculous?” Wood asked. “Listen to the Spirit! He knows the way ahead.”
Wood noted that there are more than 20,000 U.S. communities without a Pentecostal church.
“As the Assemblies of God, we cannot rest on past accomplishments,” Wood said. “There must be a fresh anointing upon the Assemblies of God, a fresh impetus to finish this task which the Spirit has given us.”