The Power of the Church

(Joshua Elder) #1

There seems to be a desire within the church to rely on the power of human beings rather than the power of God. It can be as small as believing through our schemes and manipulations that we will bring about God’s will, or as big as thinking we must be married to the powers of this world if we are going to protect the church. Christian, there is only one power that empowers the church and that is the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe we are in need of repentance and renewal in the church of Jesus Christ; Repentance that leads to a change of thinking of what power we can rely on- the world’s or God’s; Renewal of our faith in the Holy Spirit as the power of God to transform us and the world. A. W. Tozer spoke about the problem like this:

“We are turning out from the Bible schools of this country year after year young men and women who know the theory of the Spirit-filled life but do not enjoy the experience. These go out into the churches to create in turn a generation of Christians who have never felt the power of the Spirit and who know nothing personally about the inner fire… The only power God recognizes in His church is the power of His Spirit whereas the only power actually recognized today by the majority of evangelicals is the power of man. God does His work by the operation of the Spirit, while Christian leaders attempt to do theirs by the power of trained and devoted intellect. Bright personality has taken the place of the divine afflatus. Everything that men do in their own strength and by means of their own abilities is done for time alone; the quality of eternity is not in it. Only what is done through the Eternal Spirit will abide eternally; all else is wood, hay, stubble… We have the blessed Holy Spirit present, and we are treating Him as if He were not present at all. We resist Him, disobey Him, quench Him and compromise with our hearts. We hear a sermon about Him and determine to learn more and do something about it. Our conviction wears off, and soon we go back to the same old dead level we were in before. We resist the blessed Comforter. He has come to comfort. He has come to teach. He is the Spirit of instruction. He has come to bring light for He is the Spirit of light. He comes to bring purity for He is the Spirit of holiness. He comes to bring power for He is the Spirit of power … God Almighty is saying to us, “I am not wanting to wake up the power that lies in you. Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you!” That is a different thing altogether. If we had only to be awakened, the Lord would simply have gone around waking us up—but we need more than this. We need to be endued with power from on high… many Christians spend a lot of time and energy in making excuses, because they have never broken through into a real offensive for God by the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit!… Many persons preach and teach. Many take part in the music. Certain ones try to administer God’s work—but if the power of God’s Spirit does not have freedom to energize all they do, these workers might just as well have stayed home.”

What power have you been seeking to do the will of God?

Have you seen the church relying more on the power of humanity than the power of God?

(SeanO) #2

@Joshua_Elder Do you think that sometimes the Church misses the work of the Spirit because God’s ways are sometimes so different from our ways? Jesus knew so well the temptation we face when he urged us to pray and give in secret.

What do you or those reading think it looks like for the Spirit to be present in a Church? Can Churches have different seasons just like we have different seasons in our lives? Does the Spirit’s work always look the same in all of those seasons? What hinders the Spirit’s presence?

(Phillip Walter Coetzee) #3

I think it is important to know that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Certainly there might be seasons in an individual’s life, but when it comes to the kingdom of God, Paul said that it is not in word but in power.
People do indeed quench the Spirit of God and bring strange fire before Him. I think because of the entire idea of modernity or even post-modernity people today think themselves much better informed than those of the past (which quite frankly is a misguided thought in my opinion), which then qualifies them to “seek other ways”. Yet the Bible lays hold on the ancient paths, the narrow way…serving to remind us that truth remains exclusive. I think one of the most foolish things we as Christians can entertain is to think that we can convict ourselves with the light. We can of course, come to the knowledge of Christ, yet it remains the Holy Ghost that “takes what is of Christ’s and gives it to us.”

I can see it only sensible that the enemy of our souls would seek to delude our understanding of fellowship and walk in the Spirit by bringing in destructive heresies and doctrines of demons. For he very well knows that when believers do what we aught and rely on the Holy Ghost, he is in great trouble. Jesus said that “the gates of hell will not prevail” also He made it clear that the end will come when the good news was preached to every nation and so on…
It is only logical to “delude/distract the church with heresies and deceiving spirits” in order to attempt at taking her eyes off of the goal.

(Elizabeth C) #4

As an aside to this discussion (by the way @Joshua_Elder, a really good book on this exact topic is Fresh Power by Cymbala), what are your guys’ experiences with listening to the Holy Spirit and the pushback of Satan to your obedience to the direction of the Holy Spirit? I think that this is an important question at least for self-reflection because if we want the church to change, we need to model that change.

(David Bruce Young) #5

This has been a great concern of mine. I am almost afraid to add to what you say so eloquently. I would only say that we put this into practice in spiritual disciplines, primarily prayer, praying together, praying over scripture, praying for one another, teaching believers to pray for people all around them.

(SeanO) #6

@LizMath I am not sure if this answers your question, but whenever I think about the war to obey God I position it as walking in the Spirit vs walking in the flesh - the desires of the Spirit vs the evil/corrupting desires of the flesh.

My personal opinion is that one of the best passages on how to walk in the Spirit is 2 Peter 1:3-11, even though it never uses that term. I really think this passage clearly lays out how we grow in our faith and how we live the new life in Christ.

What are your thoughts? Does this passage address your question in any way?

2 Peter 1:3-11

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(Elizabeth C) #7

My question wasn’t really meant to be answered for my benefit but as a reflection for the group discussion. So often in many churches we get lost in the doctrine, in the trying to live right by that passage in I Peter for example, that we forget we are trying to do it in our own power. We can’t do it in our own power, and in the church today there are so many self-help books and so many people saying try harder when we really need to realize we can’t do it. Only God can change our hearts and minds, and for that we need to be asking Him to do that, and listen to that still small voice. And when we realize this individually as well as a church, we have a new battle, and that battle is in constant surrender to Christ rather than trying in everything to do right, because that is how the enemy wears us down.

Of course I think this has been pointed out in discussion, but I have noticed in my own life, not having grown up in a modern church body but rather in a close-knit Christian family, that I can and have made this judgment while struggling with the same issues. In other words, my question was indirectly trying to get at do we have a similar beam in our own eye? Does the Holy Spirit work in our own lives as much as we should expect Him to work in the church body? It wasn’t much to add to the discussion, just meant to shed light on the individual aspect as well as the group aspect.

(SeanO) #8

@LizMath Thank you for that contribution. Continuing along those lines, what does it look like practically to listen to that still small voice in your life? Is it a voice in our minds? A feeling? What does that life of surrender actually look like for you? I think people may find it helpful just to hear how that works in your life.

(Jamie Hobbs) #9

As in many things, there is a line to walk here. We cannot do everything, in truth anything, in our own power. That would seem as filthy rags before God. But we need to be careful not to “simply pray”. I don’t say that as if prayer is not powerful in all circumstances. I say that because I’ve seen Christians “simply pray” and do nothing else. Throughout the Bible, prayer is followed by action from the supplicant. We do not just go and do, and expect God to bless it. But prayer should not be done instead of action.

For example, go unto all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If every Christian at that time responded by fervently and ardently praying, pouring out their hearts before God, but never actually went anywhere, there would be no Christianity. All ministry should be prayed over in seeking after God’s will, and then performed if it be God’s will. Faith without works is dead (James 2:20, 26).

(Elizabeth C) #10


Apologies for my very late reply, but I think your question is a good one. That still small voice is sometimes a feeling in your heart when you ask Him what you need to do. Sometimes when making a decision that I have been seeking Him about through prayer and reading the Bible, often I will come to a conclusion and a huge peace will settle over my heart. Other times, I will ask Him a question, or confess my sin and I need to know He still loves me, and then I go read the Bible and there is everything I needed to know, understand, or hear. Once I had spent a period of time being lazy out of fear, and I woke up one morning to read my Bible and He strongly impressed upon my mind a chapter and set of verses in Romans and a chapter and set of verses in Ezekiel (a book of the Bible I had never actually read). It was very, very clear, and today I don’t remember what these verses were, but I turned to them then and He convicted me of my sin to the point where I was in tears on my knees. Other times I have been drowned in worry and He has put the right song on the radio, or given me a dream of the future in my life (which, although I didn’t realize it until the event happened the following year, just having the dream calmed that worry). Another time, I had promised to drive someone to the airport (an hour away), and I woke up that morning with the most uneasy feeling and a consistent impression on my mind that if I took them we were going to get into a really bad accident. I had already promised the ride, and so I told Him it would be wrong of me to break principle with these people by breaking a promise and I asked for His protection. He protected us: by giving me a flat tire. These are some of my experiences with His speaking to me.

(SeanO) #11

@LizMath Thank you for sharing your experiences. It is always interesting to hear how others perceive the work of the Lord in their daily lives. Christ be with you :slight_smile: