The Power of the Holy Spirit

“As in truth, so it is in service. The Church is helpless without the presence and power of the Spirit. The Church never talked so much about itself and its problems. That is always a bad sign. The lust for talk about work increases as the power for work declines. Conferences multiply when work fails. The problems of the Church are never solved by talking about them.”

And then another word on the state of the Church:

“The Church knows quite well both the reason and the remedy for failure. The human resources of the Church were never so great. The opportunities of the Church were never so glorious. The need for the work of the Church was never so urgent. The crisis is momentous; and the Church staggers helplessly amid it all. When the ancient Church reproached God with sleeping at the post of duty, God charged His people with being staggering drunk. The Church knows perfectly well what the matter is. It is sheer cant to seek the explanation in changed conditions. When were conditions ever anything else? The Church has lost the note of authority, the secret of wisdom, and the gift of power, through persistent and willful neglect of the Holy Spirit of God. Confusion and impotence are inevitable when the wisdom and resources of the world are substituted for the presence and power of the Spirit of God.”

Those words were written by the great Holiness preacher Samuel Chadwick originally published in 1937.

I was prepared to offer some more thoughts on eMerging versus emerging but after praying and asking God about it, I felt that the subject of spiritual transformation and what might be “missing? from our Church today was where the Holy Spirit wanted me to go.

The diagnosis that Chadwick had for the Church of Jesus Christ in his day is as relevant now as any other word that has come forth about the state of the Church and her powerlessness.

I could say a great deal about the issues that certain segments of the Church are struggling with but I am convinced that the answer to make disciples as our Lord commanded lie not in conferences but in remembering the third Person of the Trinity.

Whether you are a ministry trying to reach Millenials or a traditional church struggling with how to minister to the thirtysomethings in and outside your fellowship, the answer is following the example of our foreparents in the book of Acts.

When I read the Acts of the Holy Spirit, I see several things that would serve the Church well as we break through to fresh ways of presenting the Old Story of God’s Grace in Christ to a world that desperately needs it.

Without conferences every week, the Internet, podcasts, Bible colleges, multiplexes, a bazillion Bible translation or PowerPoint slides, the early church preached the simple gospel of Jesus Christ, were willing to die for it (and did on numerous occasion).

In all that, they were led by the Spirit in tangible ways that are clear for all to see. And that might be the problem we are having. Just like Chadwick noticed in his day, the problem of relegating the Holy Spirit to the dusty corner of creeds or theology books has been a storied problem throughout the Church.

I have seen grown men and women cry streams because of the lack of power in sermons. Their tears are understandable but need to focus more sharply on the real problem. The issue is not a lack of power in sermons but in the people doing the preaching.

We have settled for conferences and “how-to? books from reputable sources. We rush to apply what we have learned only to find ourselves registering for another conference because the last fix “didn’t take.? In an age where we can download the latest information or news with our iPods, we also run the risk of trying to turn our walks with Christ into e-Discipleship exercises.

There is simply no such thing and there are no shortcuts or magic formulas for walking in the power and presence of the Spirit. Over the next several days, I want to share some of my convictions about the power and presence of God that I really hope someone, even if it’s just one person, will be able to apply.

In His Grace 

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