Note: For part 1 of this article, click here.
More and more, Christians are gripped by the tension between what currently is and what should be, according to the Bible. Scripture says one thing; reality says another. Jesus gives us one model to follow, while the body of Christ is discovering new and more "relevant" strategies.
The reason we are not seeing more of what happened in the Gospels, the Book of Acts, and early church history is because we are exchanging the supernatural power they cherished for relevant principles they knew nothing about.
Of course, the New Testament community had strategies to help facilitate its growth. Relevant and contemporary principles are not harmful; they're often healthy. And yet, even something that is healthy and beneficial can become a tool in the devil's belt when we exchange the presence and power of the Holy Spirit for man-made tactics. Yes, let's be contemporary, edgy and committed to excellence, but never at the expense of welcoming the fullness of the Holy Spirit's presence.
The Supernatural Challenge of Scripture
Time after time, the Bible confronts us with realities so strong, so powerful, so gripping, that in order to deny them, we need to redefine them.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will do the works that I do also. And he will do greater works than these because I am going to My Father" (John 14:12, MEV).
Are we performing the same works that Jesus did ... and pressing in for the "even greater" works?
"I will do whatever you ask in My name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14, MEV).
Is the body of Christ more known for its supernatural power, or for its unanswered prayers?
"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit that lives in you" (Romans 8:11, MEV).
Can people look at the church and see a community that is filled with and possessed by the Spirit of the resurrected Christ?
Listed above are three Scripture passages (among many) that give the modern church legal right to pursue a culture where the supernatural is natural.
When God Comes Down ...
The Holy Spirit should be given "run of the show," when it seems like He is often stuffed in a back room somewhere—of our lives and gatherings. Why? Out of fear. Out of shame. Out of concern that He might actually show up and do what the Bible says. Heal the sick. Cast out devils. Overcome and overwhelm those hungry for His touch. Do things shake and tremble when He comes? Yes. But how could they not? Scripture makes it clear that:
"The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the earth" (Ps. 97:5, MEV).
"He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke" (Ps. 104:32, MEV)
"Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob ..." (Ps. 114:7, MEV)
When God comes down, things tremble and move. Creation shakes. If created order responds to the movement of God, we need to be OK with people trembling, shaking, jerking, falling down, laughing, and other such phenomena as the Spirit touches them.
Why these reactions are marginalized and considered offensive is truly astounding, when we have no qualms with how fellow Christians respond during sporting events. This is not a dig against being entertained by sports; it's a call to value and pursue the superior pleasure of God's manifest presence.
It's Time for Us to Embrace the Spirit's Movement
If we address this lie, I believe we are on the road to identifying solutions to many unanswered questions in Christianity today.
- Why aren't we seeing more healings and miracles in Western society?
- Why does God seem to be moving more overseas than He does in America?
- Did the age of miracles end with the last apostle or the canonization of Scripture?
Could it be that these questions cannot be sufficiently answered with some theological blanket statement like "God's sovereignty." I believe that we will begin to experience what we hunger for and expect. Our invitation? Let's remove the limits from Holy Spirit, stop using this un-Biblical "gentleman" language, and pursue Him in His fullness. For those who have used this language, describing the Holy Spirit as a gentleman, don't worry—I've been there. I'm not criticizing you; I'm identifying the concept. I believed it too. But now, my heart cries out to experience Him without religious restraint. Truly, this is not something that should scare or spook us. It should be the great thrill of every believer's life to see the omnipresent God manifest Himself in time and space through the wonderful Holy Spirit.
Let's press past our discomfort and cry out for more!
Larry Sparks is co-author of the book, The Fire That Never Sleeps, with Dr. Michael Brown and John Kilpatrick. Larry's mission is to help teach all believers how to experience and sustain personal revival—enjoying a deep relationship with God through encountering the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. To this end, he maintains a blog through Charisma magazine, is a published author, teaches revival seminars, and is the co-founder of Renewing South Florida, an organization committed to uniting the local church for regional outpouring. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University and presently serves as vice president of publishing for Destiny Image Publishers.
You can receive daily empowerment for personal revival from Larry on Facebook (facebook.com/larryvsparks).
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