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August 7, 2017

Healthy Churches: Empowered by the Holy Spirit


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A Note from Luminex: This morning’s blog post is the eleventh – and final – entry in our “Healthy Churches” blog series. Enjoy!

Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

I love that verse of Holy Scripture! It’s one of the “best in the book!” I say that because you and I, as Christians in the 21st century, are privileged to be living in the age and seasons and generations of the Holy Spirit’s power. And to me, the Holy Spirit is all about change.  He is our Sanctifier.  He is our Counselor.  He is our Teacher.  He is God’s change agent!  And His work in our lives and in the church is to change us, namely, to conform us to the image of Christ, to make us powerful witnesses, and to move human history to its divinely appointed end.  I believe there are at least four roles or functions of the Holy Spirit which can (and do!) empower the Church to accomplish the mission God gave her:

  1. The Holy Spirit’s power restores the image of God in us, restoring our right and privilege to exercise dominion over the earth. You remember that at the creation (see Genesis 1:26-28) God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the earth, and told them to fill the earth and subdue it, to the glory of God.  But humankind’s capacity to do that was ruined by Adam and Eve’s subsequent fall into sin (Genesis 3).  But God restores us when we are born again, and by His Spirit we are made new creations (II Corinthians 5:17), and renewed in our divine purpose to take dominion over the earth.
  2. The Holy Spirit gives us authority to do the work that Jesus called us to do.When we receive the Holy Spirit we receive special spiritual authority that flows from our position in Christ.  Paul said in Ephesians 2:6 that, “God has raised us up with Him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.”  We have authority that comes from abiding in Christ, as Jesus said in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it will be done for you.”  We also have authority because we have been sent by the King of kings.  Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-19).  Even before that climactic moment at His ascension, Jesus had sent His disciples two by two out into the villages and countryside of Judea, and Matthew says, “He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits, and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10:1) If that’s not life-changing activity I don’t know what is!
  3. The Holy Spirit fills us and gives us gifts and power for ministry. As we saw in Acts 1:8 (above) Jesus told us that we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, and that power is for being a witness.  Just before His ascension Jesus told His disciples, “I am going to send you what My Father has promised (speaking of the Spirit).  Now stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 23:49).  All of our ministry, both within and without the church, is to be undergirded with THAT power, not merely our own “natural resources”… or those that we buy off the shelf at the local Christian book store!
  4. The Holy Spirit gives us new vision and opens our “spiritual eyes” to see the new reality God is bringing. The prophet Joel spoke of these days when he said, “I will pour out My Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28).Many Christians and many churches have “a vision gap,” a gap between seeing the world and life and reality the way GOD sees it (and how He wants US to see it) and the way WE see it.  We need to close that gap, and that can only be done with the help of God’s Spirit.

So there you have it, and I mean that literally … you have it!  If you are a born-again believer, you have the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 12:3).  And if your church is filled with born again believers, your church is, ipso facto, a “Spirit-filled body of believers,” possessing all of the power and potential to do the four things you see listed above.

God has more in store for us, and I believe it will be released upon us as we move together (as a body moves) in concert with the Holy Spirit.  Think about the role of the Holy Spirit in the Divine Trinity.  The Spirit gave the Church birth.  He gave it life.  He gives it its power.  He gives it its identity in Christ.  He gives it all the gifts of God.  He gives the church everything!  That has not changed since the Day of Pentecost … and it never will change.

This is the secret to becoming all that God wants you to be as a Christ-follower, and all that God wants your church to be.  I pray that God will help all of us to open ourselves, and align ourselves with the work of God’s mighty Spirit, so that He can bring about the life change and world change that God desires.

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