Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Holy Spirit and the Church


The positive face of church decline is that it sends us back to the Bible and to God for answers. As part of a denomination that is struggling at the moment - at least in Wales - I have long been asking the question 'why' of myself and my ministry. I was brought to new birth in 1981 when, so it seemed to me, that conversions to Christ were more frequent and I responded to the call of God in the hope that under my ministry I would see more. I have, by God's grace, seen some but nowhere near the volume expected or needed to make the church better equipped for evangelism and outreach. Instead the church has shrunk, built up walls to shut out the world and like Israel of old, kept it's spluttering light to itself. Why is this? The following words were written over a century ago but ring true today:

"The church still has a theology of the Holy Spirit, but it has no living consciousness of his presence and power. Theology without experience is like faith without works: it is dead. The signs of death abound. Prayer meetings have died out because men did not believe in the Holy Ghost. The liberty of prophesying has gone because men believe in investigation and not in inspiration. There is a dearth of conversions because faith about the new birth as a creative act of the Holy Ghost has lost its grip on heart and intellect. The experience of the second gift of grace is no longer preached and testified because Christian experience, though it may have to begin in the Spirit, must be perfected in the wisdom of the flesh and the culture of the schools. Confusion and impotence are the inevitable results when the wisdom and resources of the world are substituted for the presence and power of the Spirit."
Samuel Chadwick: The way to Pentecost.

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