We charismatics and Pentecostals tend to think we've cornered the market on spiritual power. But have we become like Samson, who awoke shaven, bound and surrounded by his enemies to discover that the presence and power of God had left him? (See Judg. 16:20.) In the following articles, two former cessationists share their journeys from resistance to an embrace of the Holy Spirit. Now, they believe that there is a power crisis in the church--and it's not limited to those who disbelieve supernatural experience or discredit Spirit baptism. Join Jack R. Taylor and Charles Carrin as they offer solutions to get the current flowing again by conquering the two primary factors that drain the power of any ministry: pride and programs.
While much of the church scrambles for means and methods of reaching this generation for Christ, it must be remembered that our greatest need is for the presence of God to be released in our midst. When we rely on human methods, we may expect human results. When we rely on God's presence and methods, we may expect divine results.
While there is great value in good programs to provide an atmosphere for the moving of God's Spirit, it is often the case that God's presence not only ends up dictating the program, but is the program.
Power is the capacity to generate change--drastic and permanent change. This can only occur through the Holy Spirit, and it happens one person at a time as we individually are born of the Spirit, baptized in the Spirit and filled with the Spirit.
It is then that the church truly becomes the body of Christ--the mass of people in whom the Godhead lives by the Spirit. Neither the world's system and all it can contrive nor the devil and all his demons are a match for the Spirit-possessed believer and the Spirit-possessed church. Such an entity--anointed and led by the Spirit--begins to reveal the kingdom of God to our world.
THE SPIRIT WITH US
When the Spirit came upon the gathering at Pentecost, the wait for the promised coming of power from heaven ended. While we no longer need to wait, we must not go out without His presence and power, for without Him we are destined for failure.
However, with Him we will manifest His fruit, utilize His gifts, experience His leadership, think with His wisdom and reveal His rule wherever we go. This discovery of the centrality of the Holy Spirit is obvious in history and must be a priority today.
Jesus called Him the "Comforter" or "paraclete," meaning "the One called alongside of" (see John 14:16-17, KJV). It must have been a major shock when Jesus revealed to His disciples after more than three years with them that He would soon leave them. After all, what could be better than to see the miracles of the living God in action in human flesh?
That shock was soon softened and transformed into excited anticipation as Jesus talked of Him who would come. Jesus left no doubt about His nature, work, person and presence with them.
In fact, Jesus made crystal clear that it would be far better for them when He left because He would personally send the Spirit to them (see John 16:7). Though they would temporarily grieve, their grief would soon turn to joy, which no one could take away, and that joy would be complete (see John 16:22, 24).
When Jesus was on Earth in the flesh, He was the only God here. To see Him was to see the Father. To believe in Him was to believe in the Father. To walk with Him was to walk with the Father. To come to the Father was to come through Him.
He left, but before He left, He breathed upon His disciples and said, "'Receive the Spirit'" (see John 20:22). It was there that they became God-inside-minded men--a new breed of human beings.
When Pentecost came, their understanding of what had happened was enhanced when they were filled with the power of the Spirit as bits of fire rested over each of their heads. They became folks of another dimension, possessed by another realm, by what the world would perceive as an alien life form: the Holy Spirit.
The Acts of the Apostles could more accurately be titled "The Acts of the Holy Spirit Through the Apostles." Jesus is no longer here in the flesh, not even His glorified post-resurrection flesh.
But, by the Spirit, He is here. We can rightly claim that the Holy Spirit is the only God on Earth right now. To trust Him is to trust Jesus. To believe in Him is to believe in Jesus. To walk with Him is to walk with Jesus.
THE SPIRIT IN US
All that God is doing He is doing through His Spirit. We do not deal with God without going through the Spirit. It is by Him--the Holy Spirit--that we are regenerated, indwelt and empowered. Without Him there is no salvation, no indwelling and no empowering.
All the gifts for edification, healing, deliverance and power come from and through Him. Without Him there is no fruit, no guidance, no anointing, no unity or anything supernatural. All that God has for us has been accessed by the Holy Spirit through Jesus and is available to us now through Him.
The Holy Spirit is our on-site, continuing, contemporary, here-and-now God. God is here and now among us with all His abilities, gifts and graces available to us. To fear the Holy Spirit is to minimize His intentions for us and His power through us.
We must never approach the matter of living and ministering as if God is a faraway God. In Christ, God drew near and was called Emmanuel, "God with us." In His physical manifestation, Jesus has left the Earth and gone into heaven. But He has now come through the Spirit in His unlimited capacity.
THE SPIRIT IN CHARGE
We are enjoined to be filled with the Spirit, be led of the Spirit, be empowered by the Spirit, be enlightened by the Spirit and seek the fruit of the Spirit. All these high privileges belong to us now! What then should we do?
**We must repent of any failure to give Him His rightful place in our personal lives and in the church.
**We must recognize Him as our on-site, inside God, whose résumé was made clear by Jesus.
**We must receive His fullness personally as our here-and-now God, whose power is totally necessary for living the Christian life and practicing effective ministry.
**We must rely on Him for wisdom, power and direction for the accomplishing of our destinies on Earth.
What then may we expect?
We may expect that He who spoke the Word into existence will work in absolute accord with His Word in all He does. The blessed combination of the Word of God breathed upon by the Spirit of God will result in the power of God revealing the purposes of God to a turbulent generation.
No one honored the Holy Spirit during his ministry more than the great preacher Samuel Chadwick. He wrote a book titled The Way of Pentecost. In it he stated: "The blunders and disasters of the church are largely, if not entirely, accounted for by the neglect of the Spirit's ministry and mission.
"The morass of speculation about the Bible takes no account of the Holy Spirit. It regards inspiration as negligible and insists upon interpreting revealed truth by no standards save those of history and literature. Miracles are condemned without trial. Prophecy is dismissed without inquiry. Revelation is ignored without reason.
"The Christian religion begins in a new birth in the power of the Spirit. It is developed under His guidance and sustained by His presence."
May we lay aside our dependence on programs and human effort and celebrate the wonderful privilege of living in the days of the unlimited presence of God through the Holy Spirit--our on-site, inside God!