TOAM08 – Mark Driscoll: Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in Luke and Acts

TOAM08 – Mark Driscoll: Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in Luke and Acts July 8, 2008

Terry introduced Mark by mentioning his currently available books, all of which he highly recommended. You can buy these from the Newfrontiers resources page. It was nice to see my pastor, Tope Koleoso, on the stage praying for Mark just before he began preaching. It was interesting that just a couple of weeks ago Tope also spoke on being missional in a talk that was impacting to me.

In case anyone hasn’t been reading blogs for the past two years, Mark Driscoll founded Mars Hill Church in Seattle in 1996.Mark Driscoll It has grown to over 6,000 people. He co-founded and is President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, which has planted over 100 churches in the USA and internationally. Most recently he founded and leads the Resurgence Missional Theology Cooperative. The Church Report has recognized Mark as the 22nd most influential pastor in America. His sermons are downloaded more than a million times a year. Mark is married to Grace and they enjoy raising their three sons and two daughters.

More posts from this conference can be found on my TOAM08 label page. You can download the mp3 of Mark’s talk or listen to it right here:

Driscoll began by speaking of being brought up in a nominal Catholic family. Then his mother was saved in the Catholic charismatic movement, so spoke in tongues to Mary! Later on he started going out with a pastor’s daughter, and as a result became a Christian. He explained, “If you are a Calvinist, God saved me; if you are an Arminian, I gave my life to the Lord.” He then spoke about how God audibly spoke to him, “Marry the woman, plant churches, preach the Bible, and train men.”

He explained that in Seattle there are more dogs than kids. Now eleven years into having started Mars Hill Church, they are in the top thirty fastest growing churches in the USA, are seeing many saved, and run a multi-campus church with seventeen services in seven locations. He plans to stay in Seattle for the rest of his life.

Driscoll then humbly explained that through his experiences here in Brighton he wants to learn from those of us in Newfrontiers. He is appreciative for the love of the Spirit and the passion for worship he has seen here. He was not afraid to say that he is also here to serve and build on our movement and contribute something to us. He stated up front that he felt that the particular thing he could contribute was to help us become more precise as missionaries. I found that phrase to be an intriguing one, but he didn’t explain it immediately.

Rather, he began to explain that while he himself clearly holds a charismatic theology and prays for the sick and demonized, he has a number of concerns about charismatics in general. He has often described himself as a “charismatic with a seat belt.”

Having looked at charismatic movements, he listed five problems he has with them, and boldly stated that he believed that we in Newfrontiers have avoided four of the five. He warned us to brace ourselves because some friendly words of rebuke were coming. At that point you certainly wanted to pay attention! As he listed his “problems” and explained them—and as nice as he was when he told us he thought we were okay on them—we braced ourselves for the blows we knew were coming!


Sometimes charismatics focus on the wrong person. The Spirit’s objective is to teach us to love Jesus. He feels from his observation of Newfrontiers that we as a movement have avoided this common error of an over-focus on the Spirit to the exclusion of Jesus.

Sometimes charismatics focus on the wrong event. He explained that for many charismatics, Pentecost is their primary focus. But Pentecost was not the primary moment—it pointed back to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The cross was not just the prelude to the so-called “main event” of the coming of the Spirit. You only rightly appreciate Pentecost when you see it as the application of the cross. Driscoll also believed we in Newfrontiers have avoided that error and are cross-centered.

Mark DriscollSome who love the Spirit have been corrupted by the view that it is all about prosperity. Driscoll commended Newfrontiers for being a Bible-loving people, and that we have not given way to the “health and wealth” teaching. Driscoll’s big problem with such “word of faith” teaching is that it basically says if you have enough faith in Jesus you will not be like him. He was poor and suffering! Some say all Christians should be rich and healthy!

Sometimes charismatics focus on the wrong person as the definition of what it is to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. As a result, charismatic leaders are often held up as an example to follow. The person gets lifted up. What Driscoll appreciates about Terry Virgo is that he lifts up Jesus. As Mark would go on to explain, it is in the life of Jesus that we find the perfect example of how to be filled with the Spirit, not in some leader.

Sometimes charismatics are insufficiently missional. He feels this is a big danger, especially if the charismatic is wedded to reformed theology. The danger is that we can begin to say, “It’s all up to God.” I thought here about people who do nothing about sharing the gospel, but instead just wait for revival. This is the one he feels that we in Newfrontiers may not have completely avoided. We are committed to mission, but not quite. We have almost hit the bull’s eye, but not quite. He did not mean this as a criticism, but as a way to help us improve. We have planted a lot of churches, but we should be moving even more quickly. We should be planting more. We should be giving more money. What is lacking sometimes is how we connect to culture and reach out to cultures and plant churches.


Mark made a strong case for Luke and Acts being a joint work which focuses on the work of the Spirit in the life of Christ and then in the Christian. It is striking how many times Luke reports on the work of the Spirit.

The structure behind Driscoll’s talk was to point out all the different things that the Holy Spirit does.

The Spirit fills people.
Luke 1 — “Filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb.” We are to be filled with the Spirit also, and to love the Spirit.

Spirit-filled ministry includes miracles.
The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow . . .” A virgin gives birth. The Spirit prepares the coming of Jesus, works in the ministry of Jesus, and continues to work in the Church.

Spirit-filled ministry includes prayer.
When Mary met Elizabeth it says that her baby was filled with the Spirit. “The baby leaped for joy.” Elizabeth then prays gratefully, and also blesses Mary.

Spirit-filled ministry includes prophecy.
Zechariah was Spirit-filled and prophesied. Later, when the shepherds were in the fields and the angel came, they were filled with fear, and good news came. The news was revealed to them. Here is a Savior, Christ the Lord—which actually means one who is anointed by God the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was brought to the temple as a baby, more prophetic revelation came.

One of the ministries of Jesus is to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire for mission.
Luke 3:15 — “Baptize with the Holy Spirit.” There was also a division that came. Jesus inspires wonder and worship and also opposition. When the Spirit is in your midst, there is conflict and division. There are seasons of conflict. People get blown away.

At Jesus’ baptism the heavens opened and the Spirit descended on him like a dove. This is one of the clearest pictures of the Trinity in the entire Bible. God speaks from heaven to his Son, and the Spirit comes visibly and publicly. There is a clear demonstration to the public that the Spirit had anointed him. In Acts, the Spirit descends on the Church publicly to anoint the Church in much the same way as he anointed Jesus.


We must remember how Jesus came. He came in carnal flesh! In meat. The omnipresent came to a place. He who was without beginning and end was born of a woman. There is a great debate about how we are to see Jesus. Hypostatic union — Jesus one person, two natures — fully God, fully man. He did what only God could do.

Mark DriscollGod doesn’t grow and learn, but as a man Jesus did grow and learn. The God who doesn’t change changed physically. How could God become a man? Jesus didn’t lose or dilute his divinity. Rather he added to it his humanity.

Christians tend to see Jesus as a little more human or a little more divine. The first are liberals. The second don’t believe that Jesus was really tempted, or that he truly suffered. Jesus was like Superman, they say — like a Galilean peasant on the outside, but on the inside indestructible.

How did Jesus live his life? How did he resist sin? How did he love his enemies? How did he live for three years with Judas Iscariot? How did Jesus go to the cross and say, “Father forgive them”?

Some just say he was God. But Jesus was and is fully God, and while on the earth he was indeed still fully God. But he didn’t live a life that we cannot imitate. Jesus wasn’t faking it when he suffered. He was like us and tempted in the same way we are.

Philippians 2:5-11. He laid aside his rights. He emptied himself, became a slave. He was still God, but set aside the rights of divinity. He deserved to be worshipped and was scorned, he deserved to be praised and was mocked. He laid aside the continual use of his divine attributes, not the actual attributes themselves. He chose to learn, he chose to be tempted. He did use the divine attributes from time to time, e.g. to forgive sin. He didn’t use them all the time.

How then did he do it? How did he live his life? He did it by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we see the Spirit coming on him and resting on him, to enable him to live his life on earth. He was the second Adam. How did he say “no” to sin? By the power of the Spirit. How did he obey? How did he heal? How did he cast out demons? It was all by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was Spirit-filled, spirit-anointed and Spirit-led. What does it mean to be a charismatic? It means to be like Jesus! Most of the creeds miss out on his life. They say he was born and he died. What else did he do? We must focus on what is missing in the creeds—the Spirit-filled and anointed life of Jesus.

Let’s apply this to missiology. Jesus lived in heaven and came to earth — that’s a missionary. He lived in heaven in a culture of no sin where God was honored. He came to a culture which was rebellious and sinful. We tend to overlook the fact that Jesus was a missionary. The Spirit loves to empower those who are on a mission. Not just so we can pray better, worship louder, give more generously, but that we will be better missionaries to expand the knowledge of God to the ends of the earth. To be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led is to be missional because Jesus was!

[At this point, Mark returned to describing for us all the various things the Holy Spirit does.]

The Spirit leads us sometimes into hardship, testing, and temptation.
Luke 4 — Jesus—full of the Holy Spirit. He was led from the Jordan into the wilderness. He was led by the Spirit to the devil!

We are led to active ministry, and to contemplative ministry. Connect to God before you go to serve him. Anointing leads to silence, solitude, prayer, and contemplation, as well as testing, temptation, and fasting. He tests our character and prepares us. If you go through such a time, remember the same thing happened to Jesus.

Don’t be always doing, but never being. Jesus was tempted and tested, and because he resisted sin, it was confirmed that he was prepared for ministry.

Spirit-anointed ministry includes preaching.
Luke 4:14 — Silence precedes speech and contemplation precedes action. Spirit-filled preaching does not come without periods of silence, prayer, and fasting. The power of the Spirit is needed to preach.

Luke 4:17 — Spirit is still anointing him to do the work. He was anointed to proclaim liberty.

Spirit-anointed ministry includes justice for the poor.

Spirit-filled ministry includes joy in God.
Luke 10:21 — Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. Driscoll feels this is something we in Newfrontiers can give to him. He says that he has a tendency to emphasize the negative, to see sin, to identify errors, to see what mistakes are being made. What he experienced in worship here reminded him of that verse about how Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. That is what we were doing here in the worship times. [Driscoll seemed to have been quite affected by our worship time.]

We can rejoice in God when we still see the suffering of this world, but beyond it we see God. We can weep or we can sing and dance and clap in the Spirit. Jesus saw the grace of God in children and enjoyed their company.

The Spirit is given to us by the Father.
Jesus said in a parable that if you know how to give good gifts, the Father will give the Spirit to those who ask. If you like to live a life like mine, says Jesus, you better ask my Father for the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit makes the Christian life possible. We need to continually ask the Father for more of the Spirit so we can learn well, suffer well, serve well, and die well.

The Spirit teaches us what to say. (Luke 12:11)
He enables us
to speak to people. He helps us to speak in such a way that there is no explanation for the results apart from his power.

In the book of Acts, Luke continues with what Jesus did. He died for our sins, rose for our justification, conquered Satan. You would think that was enough and that he had done it all. Acts records the rest. Acts 1 says what Jesus did was THROUGH the Holy Spirit. Having seen what Jesus did through the Spirit, Luke introduces us to the idea that the same Spirit could come on the disciples so they could do the same things.

Power is needed to do ministry properly. This power is given so we can be missionaries. How do you know someone has the Holy Spirit? It’s because they are on a mission.

We are on a mission. In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Start where you are. We can’t just go across the world. We need to go across the street. It’s easy to pray for the ends of the earth and neglect the ends of the street. How is your witness in Jerusalem? Do you KNOW people in your road? In your workplace? Is Jesus visible? If you are good witnesses in Jerusalem you will never be lacking for church planters. You harvest church planters in your church, in your neighborhood, in your street.

Jesus ascended into heaven where he had come from. You can imagine they would want to tell the world straight away, “Jesus is alive; he has conquered sin and death.” But they had to WAIT. Some of us have to wait. It’s not yet time. Imagine that—they sit on this news for weeks! It is an astonishing thing that even though their message was so wonderful, they were not allowed to proclaim it until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit.

Charismatics have Acts 2 on the fridge. We all know this one! Sounds like a mighty rushing wind.

Jesus was a missionary. The Church is to be a missionary, too. A Spirit-anointed Jesus anointed the Church. He wants us to do the works of Jesus. We must connect Acts with Luke. We are to be enabled and empowered to live a life like Jesus—a life fill of authority and mission.

The Spirit anoints so that the gospel can be communicated in every language, tongue, and dialect so that the vision of Revelation can come true!

Spirit-filled ministry results in repentance.
Brothers, what shall we do? Repentance is one of the greatest evidences of the work of the Spirit within us. Many today preach encouragement—try harder, do better. But we must preach repentance. Preaching repentance is only fitting for those who practice repentance. We may practice worldly sorrow, but it doesn’t rock us to the depths and compel us to change. We have our back to God and our face towards sin. Repentance puts our face towards God and our back to sin.

Spirit-filled ministry brings conversion.
The verse continues, “Be baptized and you will receive the Spirit. That day there were added to the church 3,000 souls.” Many today are not interested in true conversion. It’s about passing from death to life. We need the power of the Spirit to lead to repentance and conversion.

Spirit-filled ministry brings devotion to one another and awe towards God.
Acts 2 — Awe, prayer, food, fellowship. Jesus is alive! Are you in awe of that? All our sins are forgiven! Are you in awe of that?

We are part of the ministry of Jesus doing anointed work by the power of the Spirit — the same one who raised Jesus from the dead! Do you have a sense of awe? We don’t deserve ministry. We need awe in it. Don’t lose your sense of awe. That is the way Judas Iscariot became what he did.

We also need a sense of gratefulness that the Spirit has regenerated us and enabled and gifted us. Absolute wonder. We get to be a part of it!

We must not resist, quench, or grieve the Holy Spirit.

The Church was birthed by the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Lord added daily those being saved. What constitutes a church? Define what it is and does. You don’t want to lose your faithfulness. It’s not just Word and sacrament. Rather it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the Church does not exist.


Community of regenerated believers. You are not a part of the Church if you are not a Christian! Jesus died for us, but the Spirit must regenerate us and cause us to be reborn. 2 Corinthians 5:21. Imputation goes both ways. The great exchange—the doctrine of justification. N. T. Wright gets the resurrection right and the cross wrong! Fight the war for justification, BUT don’t neglect regeneration! Regeneration is that God gives us a new heart. A new creation. My new life as a missionary on the earth. Heart of stone gone, flesh given. Sin nature gone, new nature given. Life patterned after life of Jesus.

The heart is the center of everything—so a new heart means a new identity, a new passion, new gifts, a new purpose, new power, new desires. I get to live a whole new life. LEGALISM tells us that we HAVE TO DO things; the gospel tells us we GET TO DO things. “I want to serve God; I want to pray; I want to read my Bible; I want to learn humility; I don’t want to be ashamed, I want him to say “Well done”; I want to enter into my rest. Living for our strongest desires, not merely to “not sin.” It’s not merely to avoid the bad things, but to love God. It is the Spirit that delivers us and gives us new desires to love God and to do good. Temptations come, but our deepest desire should be for God and the things of God. Joyful, meaningful, purposeful life that never ends, but continues in his presence!

Mark didn’t get a chance to cover all of the marks of the Church in Acts, but implied he would look at them later. He briefly mentioned them. The Church:

  1. Is Organized
  2. Is gathered
  3. Observes the sacraments
  4. Is unified
  5. Is scattered as missionaries
  6. Gives God glory
  7. Experiences joy

Holy Spirit longs, desires, wills to anoint us for the glory of Jesus—to live like him, for him, and to him as a missionary to the ends of the earth!

Driscoll prayed for us as a movement and asked God to take our appreciation for the Bible and love for Jesus and unite within us fervent desires to live a life like Jesus, with Jesus, and FOR Jesus! He thanked God who sent the Son as an example, sent the Spirit as an enabler, and sent US to the world. He wanted us to be Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, justified, regenerated, spirit-compelled. He said our goal of 1,000 churches is too small! And that there were many nations where church plants were to be accomplished.

Jesus has a passion for the earth that he made!
We are to love Jesus because he first loved us, and to love the world because we love Jesus.

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