Tue October 10th, 2017
The good news or the gospel of Jesus Christ is often salami-sliced by Christians into what they feel matters.
At the Ark we often say that we are ‘Big on the Bible’, because like other evangelicals we see the Word of God as a vital part of our belief system, our message and our basis for living. Many churches talk about the Word of God being central and they will focus on that truth.
In these churches we often experience great inspirational preaching that explains the Bible to us and introduces God to the congregation.
Some Christians however major on their belief in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through the church and talk about a ‘power gospel’. Often that is because they have gone through a period of time where they have had no experience of the Spirit and suddenly because they themselves have discovered God the Spirit, He becomes their focus.
It is Paul who reminds us that:
1 Cor 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
So the gospel is not all about talk or theory but about practical manifestation of God’s love too!
Truly, when you have only experienced a ministry of the Word and have not been aware of any experience of the Spirit, you could be forgiven for being a little excited at what God is doing.
In these churches we often experience great times of worship where people are ‘lost in wonder, love and praise’, manifesting the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. Their meetings are often encounters with the Most High and are on a totally different level!
At the Ark we also claim to be ‘Led by the Spirit’ – almost as if we were wanting both Word and Spirit – and why not? Does the Bible limit us to one or the other? – No! – that is only our traditions that limit us.
In creation it is Father, Son and Spirit that create the universe (Genesis 1:1-3). In the recreation the same is true (John 3:3-18), with the godhead working together as always. Before his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus tells us that it is advantageous that He is going away because then the comforter or counsellor, the parakletos, the Holy Spirit will come.
John 14: 16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth.
On the day of Pentecost we remember that a tremendous outpouring happened of the Holy Spirit and with it began the ‘last days’ as Peter declared.
Acts 2:15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 And it will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all people;
then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 I will even pour out my Spirit
on my servants in those days, both men and women
and they will prophesy.
These last days are those that God always wanted, where His Spirit would dwell with man via His Church.
Some people teach that, for some reason, these days have ended, often quoting:
I Cor 13:8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.
This scripture of course refers to the eschaton – the end of time ‘when the perfect comes’.
Despite the overwhelming teaching of the New Testament and the experience of the church throughout history, some propagate this heresy as if it was a teaching from God, although, thank God, these voices are becoming so much less frequent as so many of them die or are themselves being filled with the Spirit as renewal continues to flow through the church worldwide. We must always remain vigilant against heresy against the Word or the Spirit, particularly the latter as Jesus says:
Matt 12:31 Therefore, I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the one to come.
In context this is said when people are saying that the works that Jesus were doing were demonic when of course they were of the Holy Spirit, and the warning this contains should remind us to be careful to speak against manifestations that are from God.
So, we should not be just a church of the Word, neither should we be just a church of the Spirit, but a church of both. This is of course a distinctive of the Ground Level network – that we are churches of Spirit and Word. We value both highly and will not ignore either.
The Word of God as contained in the Bible has so much good news for us – there is always something to impact our lives in a positive way. The Spirit also has something for us each day as He reminds us of the teachings of Jesus (1 John 2:27), as He dispenses gifts of the Spirit among the body, the church, and as He ministers to our inner selves. We are silly if we cut ourselves off from one or the other, for we are truly dependant on both.