Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Bringing the gospel message to life

The message of the cross and the resurrection are not enough to win people to Christ! That statement is enough to catch the attention of any serious-minded Christian and can, at first glance, seem to deny the very fundamental heart of the Christian Faith, but before you write me off as a liberal and a heretic let me - or rather let William Law - explain. This is from the book I am reading called "The Power of the Spirit" published by none other than CLC. He writes:

"The truth and perfection of the gospel could not be realized until it became solely a ministration of the Holy Spirit. Though instructed in heavenly truths from Christ Himself and enabled to work miracles in His Name, nevertheless the apostles were not yet qualified to know and teach the mysteries of His Kingdom. There was a still higher dispensation to come which they could never have part in from an outward instruction, even from the lips of Christ Himself. Only when he, being glorified, should come again in the fullness and power of the Spirit, breaking open the death and darkness of their hearts with light and life from heaven, could they experience in themselves all that He had promised to them while He was with them in the flesh. "I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away," said Christ, thus teaching the need of a higher and more blessed state than they could know through His bodily presence with them. For He adds, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come" (John 16:7. Therefore the real comfort and blessing of Christ to His followers could not be had except through something more than His physical presence and verbal instruction, wonderful as these must have been to those privileged few."

Many churches today are struggling despite knowing Jesus and His message having personally benefited from it themselves. They have a heart for the gospel and long to share it with others but something is missing. Could it be the Holy Spirit? I am not one for looking for quick fixes or miracle cures, and I am dubious about the benefits of another revival when the last one fizzled out like a damp squib and seemed to leave us worse off than before. However, I would say and am becoming more and more convinced, that we need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, a New Pentecost so we can see the truth about Jesus live once again.

This is no quick fix though and it is salutary to remember that Jesus told the disciples that they would have to wait for the Spirit's coming. Waiting requires patience and we live in an impatient age. The church has caught something of this and looks to other solutions to get things going. So we have building projects and publicity stunts, whilst bemoaning the fact that nothing seems to work anymore. We must pray and wait, and wait and pray. I am convinced that nothing else will work.

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