In our natural bodies, physical pain forces us to awaken when we have been asleep. It obligates us to pay immediate attention to a specific need and drives us to look deeper into the truth. In other words, it motivates us to examine closer the cause of a problem instead of the symptom. I believe the corporate Church is facing a spiritual pain that is pressing us awake.
I recently attended a meeting where I heard someone say “this has happened on our watch” referring to the many spiritual concerns facing the western Church. This person was pointing to the distinct and valid issues we are compelled to address in this day. I totally agree that we are responsible for numerous things that have entered on our watch. However, to more fully broach this subject I believe there is a need for us to understand that compromise actually infiltrated the church many centuries ago. Some of the problems of today we have created…others we inherited. How we now respond to our present condition is the defining issue.
Just as “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” we haven’t experienced the full effect of compromise in one generation. The present condition of the Church has been a progression of seeds sown many years ago. We cannot merely address the fruit of those things, but strike the root of the tree.
We are now in the day of restoration promised through the prophet Joel. This process began first with Martin Luther and his message of justification by faith. Secondly, John Wesley recovered the message of sanctification by the washing of the Word. Thirdly, the baptism of Holy Spirit was reintroduced corporately in the last 100 years. The Azuza Street outpouring helped launch this awareness and spiritual restoration. Perhaps it is valid to assume that the last 100 years could be considered our watch!
It could certainly be supported that within the past 40 years we have allowed the sacred experience of being Holy Spirit filled to be watered down and diluted to a superficial level. It is never our intent to be critical but we must identify the root cause of our condition in order to apprehend a remedy. John G. Lake acknowledged that his generation missed the mark and lost the day of their visitation because of a lack of appreciation and understanding of being Spirit filled. Could that have affected the condition we are faced with in our generation as well?
Unfortunately, many segments of the corporate Church have resolved being Holy Spirit filled according to the Acts 2 model, as an optional experience or somehow unnecessary. Still others have equated Him to speaking in tongues only. In no way should we minimize speaking in tongues as part of our heritage. We as believers should have this as an integral part of our daily prayer language. This is vital form of communication between our spirit with the Holy Spirit. When Holy Spirit was poured out they did speak in tongues and were endued with power to do the work of the ministry
The Scripture plainly supports the position that the early disciples were empowered to cast out demons, heal the sick and do other aspects of the ministry. However, we discover that the disciples were actually commissioned and functioning in that purpose before the Day of Pentecost. (Matthew 10:8; Luke 10:8)
Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you”….The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name. And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have
given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Luke 10:8 9 & 17-19
Most importantly, the infilling of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost changed their character. Before that experience we discover some of the disciples jostling for personal position in the kingdom and attempting to discover who would sit on the Lord’s right and left hand. Neither did they possess the personal strength nor fortitude to remain awake and “watch” with the Lord in His hour of greatest need. Furthermore, they were afraid to be identified with Him and even denied that they knew Him.
Nevertheless, following the Acts 2 experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit, something was radically changed internally in their nature. Before the experience they were afraid of losing their life and being identified with Christ. After, they freely gave their life for Him. Their nature had been transformed. This likewise allowed for an even greater measure of power and authority to do the work of the ministry.
A greater capacity was imparted to them through the Holy Spirit that allowed the comprehension of truth with understanding. Mysteries they were unable to apprehend before the experience now became clear. The Holy Spirit led them into all truth. These are the true evidences of being filled with the Spirit. The Lord said,
I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own
initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. John 16:12 13
Clearly, a key for our generation is to also experience the Holy Spirit in like fashion. The Lord wants to impart the Living Truth, not a truth. The baptism of the Holy Spirit produces all of these elements of His attributes that are essential for us to fulfill our commission in this generation. The question is being asked, are we willing to lay down our lives for this reality?
Undoubtedly, having witnessed the crucifixion first hand and the brutality of His sufferings must have left a lasting impression upon the initial disciples. However, we also find Paul and many others throughout early Church history who were equally as devoted though they did not personally witness the crucifixion. The Spirit resident in them provided a vivid reality of the cross. He will do likewise today!
It is not our desire to return to Pentecost but we do desperately need the fullness of the Pentecostal experience that birthed the apostolic church. That same empowerment will equip us to overcome the spirit of compromise that entered the Church in 325 AD. It will allow us to strike the root of unbelief and compromise and move forward into maturity as His sons and daughters.