x92........Where Is Your Church Stuck?
We look at the past--the "dark ages" when the church was bound up by tradition. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were "stolen" from the church. Why? simply because people looked at tradition-they looked at what was around them and at what people said was the correct way to operate a church. In other words, people believed the tradition of men rather than be in obedience to the Word of God. Christians had fully accepted the changes that Roman emperors had made in the church--albeit unknowingly--yet now that we know these things--why do we stay with these traditions--and call them "correct" trradition?
It is only just in our century that the gifts of the Spirit have been restored to the church. We see that they met much resistance from the denominations--from the "traditional" churches, and in fact to this day there are many denominations who resist the gifts of the Spirit. Their reason is that once again they look at what tradition says rather than what the Word of God says. They look around them and don't see the gifts used in the world and they have never been used in the tradition of their church. They might reason to themselves that "those gifts were only for the people of that time and place". they will say that the gifts were only for the people who were there at the day of pentecost--they are not for today.
To put this another way, these denominations are "stuck" at a certain point in the Bible. They have accepted what the Bible says about Jesus. they certainly believe that His work upon the cross is for us today. The salvation that is spoken of in the Bible is not just for the people of Biblical times--but is certainly available for us today. Of course it is this very belief that makes all these denominations "Christian" and makes us all brothers and sisters in Christ.
In order to get to this point, Christian believers have to make the "leap of faith" that says that a man, who said he was God, died on a cross 2,000 years ago, and rose from the dead, and, that if anyone believes in Him--that is to confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their heart that he was raised from the dead--they will be saved today. These are all sound Biblical principals and certainly anyone who is a Christian has these beliefs as the basis of their life. A Christian believes in a living Savior, who,according to the scriptures, was crucified, died and was buried and on the third day He rose again. The basis of Christianity is the belief that what the Bible says about Jesus is accurate and true and if we live it out today and believe in Jesus--we "will be saved" (Romans 10:9--John 3:17 etc.)
If we look at some false cults we will see that they may say that they believe in the Bible and in Jesus, yet they extract certain scriptures and completely ignore others. Most will preach a doctrine of works in order to be saved. to put it another way, they are "stuck" with such a limited Biblical belief that they do not even believe that Jesus did the complete work of salvation at the cross. If a cult does not believe this than they certainly are not Christians. They can use the Bible all they want, but without Jesus they are just not Christians.
So, we have to first recognize that any group of believers who accept Jesus work on the cross as the complete offering for the salvation of our souls today as being a Christian people. This would have to include catholics, as well as all protestant denominations. (Now, please understand what I am saying. It is always up to us as individuals to accept Jesus into our hearts--the name of our church does not save us--only the name of Jesus saves us--and salvation is not obtained by going to church--but by going to Jesus!) I am sure that their are people in every church who are not saved--even though they may "show up" to church every week for their entire lives. When I am speaking about "catholics" or "baptists" I am assuming that I am speaking about individuals who have truly accepted Jesus and believe the ideas that are taught within their denomination.
But here is my question. Where is your church "stuck"? What do I mean? Well, as we stated, the gifts of the Spirit were restored to the church at the beginning of this century. People started to believe that the things that happened to the early church could and should also happen to believers today. Now, to some people who are in denominations this may still seem like an odd idea. But consider salvation. All Christians believe that they are saved today by what Christ did 2,000 years ago. All Christians believe by faith that the actions of a righteous man 2,000 years ago have an affect on us today. The gifts of the Spirit were restored to the church when people started to believe by faith that the same manifestations that happened to the early church could and should happen to believers today. When we see it in this light, we can understand the reasoning behind the gifts. If Paul the apostle believed that he was saved by faith in Jesus--we certainly are today by our faith in the same Jesus ("Jesus Christ the same yesterday today and forever"). Now, those of us who believe in and have received the gifts of the Spirit by faith (same process by which salvation is received) tend to look at the denominations who do not believe in the gifts of the Spirit as being "stuck" at a certain point in the Bible. That is to say that they seem to believe in the Word of God to a certain point, but the the tradition of their church, and the "evidenc" of what they see around them contradicts what the word of God clearly says about the manifestations and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. We might look at them and say they are "stuck" at the point were pentecost begins. Now certain denominations go along with pentecost to a certain extent--but their "rules" their "traditions" allow them to get "stuck" at another point.
The perfect obedience to the Will and the Word of God is contained within the Word of God. The perfect act of obedience of people to the Will of God is found in the Acts of the Apostles. The question I have is simply this--Is your church obedient to the church of pentecost? We simply would not have Christianity if not for the people who took the Spirit of God out with them on the day of pentecost. There is no Christian denomination that would disagree with that statement. But my question is, are we obedient to use the outpouring of the same Spirit of God in the way that they did? Every Christian church is "stuck" at a certain point in the Bible. This is an absolute fact and cannot be denied.
What did they do at the day of Pentecost? to put it briefly they did the following.
1. They believed in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They had just seen Him ascend into heaven and they at last fully realized that he had bought salvation for them at the cross. Every Christian church does this.
2. They gathered together in prayer and waited and believed for the coming promise of the Holy Spirit. Most Christian churches understand in and believe in the Holy Spirit--yet there are few that go the next step.
3. They received the Holy Spirit--they saw the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and they all spoke in other tongues. Now, today there are many churches that have received this exact same type of manifestation of the Holy Spirit--they have seen the gifts of the Spirit active and alive in their lives and in their church. but, this is the point where nearly every Christian church gets "stuck"--because when this same Holy Spirit was poured out on the people who were in that upper room--they went on to show us the full path of obedience to receiving the Holy Spirit.
4. They immediately all began to minister to the world. In other words--the Holy Spirit was not just to "get themselves blessed"--they immediately went out into the streets--drunk with the Spirit. And one of the immediate results was the "3,000 souls were baptized in one day" and God added to the church daily--Does this happen in your church? Or do we regulate the move of the Holy Spirit by the rules of the Roman empire within the church? Do we say by our own traditions that God will show up only on Sunday at 10 am and He will leave promptly at noon? The Bible says that the church at pentecost met "daily" (in their homes--in the Jewish temple--in many places they operated theri apostlship--which is simply small groups of beleivers, praying inthe Spirit--receiving the word from God, and immediately acting upon the direct instructions of God--Christ the Head of the body). They ate together and sold what the Spirit instructed them to to give to the poor, and supported one another completely in every way--since everyone was ministering (serving!) God.
Do we have the right to "regulate" God? And do we not regulate the move of the Holy Spirit when we limit His move to our time schedules? And do we not also limit God by only allowing His presence to be active in us within the confines of our church? Is this not disobedience to the word of God? Are we not in fact "stuck" at a certain point in the Bible? Are we not then "stuck" by our tradition that stops our belief and faith at the church door? (the exact same tradition that we so quickly criticize in our catholic or baptist brothers and sisters!)
You see, as every Christian denomination acknowledges it was the move
of God that started in that upper room in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago that
lead to everything we have as Christians today. Because from that upper
room, they went out and quickly evangelized the entire known world. When
they received the Holy Spirit, they did not keep it to themselves--they
immediately carried the power of God out into the world. They carried on
the purposes that Jesus had demonstrated to them--("The
Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the
gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to
the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"
Luke 4:18, KJV).
And then if you will read Acts of the apostles you will find that --they gathered together every day--and they also went to the Jews and preached Jesus! Those of us who today receive the same Holy Spirit--do we carry it out all together into the world? Or do we limit God to the confines of our church? Do we gather together every day? Or do we limit God to the "tradition" of Sunday services? (in the Bible there was no "official" "holy day of obligation" on Sundays---in other words no rule that said "everyone must attend on Sundays"--rather there wre continual ongoing meetings--in those small apostolic groups--and therefore much more effectiveness in God) Do we all move out all together and evangelize into the world? Or are we simply admonished to try to bring people into the kingdom of God individually--(If you study you will find that the apostles always worked together). do we who have received the Holy Spirit go to our other brothers and sisters who have not yet received the Holy Spirit? The church at pentecost went to their own Jewish brothers and sisters and taught them about Jesus! It was mostly Jews who were brought into the fold as Christians! Should not we who have received the Holy Spirit go to our catholic and other denominational brothers and sisters and explain the gift of the Spirit to them? Or do we instead stay behind our denominational wall (or our non-denominational wall!) and say the "those people" will never "get it". Maybe we are the ones who are not "getting it"! Maybe we are just as stuck as the catholics that we so quickly criticize. Maybe we are just as stuck with our own traditions and half-beliefs. Maybe we are in just as much disobedience as anyone. Where is your church "stuck"?