————————————-THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE ASSEMBLY
1 Thessalonians 5:19: Do not quench the Spirit.
It is a paradox that the all-powerful Spirit can be quenched (stifled, suppressed). Sadly, the Spirit is often quenched (stifled, suppressed), not only in the individual’s life but also in an assembly of believers.
2 Corinthians 3:17: where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Liberty from bondage. Liberty from sin. Liberty from fear of man. Freedom to express. Freedom to prophesy. Freedom to be used by the Holy Spirit. Freedom to make choices.
That’s Just The Way It Is! does not cater to liberty in the gathering of the saints. A church member is allowed to choose the pew he/she sits in and that’s about it. The pastor considers him his ministry. Her opinions are not asked for or desired. He/she is told when to stand, when to sit, what to sing, when to go home.
1 Corinthians 14:26: How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation.
Paul is saying, “When you people have a gathering, this is how it is to work.” And then he gives a general guideline, emphasizing everyone should have something to contribute. This theme of multiple participation is interspersed throughout his letters. Paul is not just giving suggestions (“Hey, why don’t you give this a try?”), but an inspired declaration from the throne of God. (2Tm.3:16)
It is obvious the church of Corinth is not a mature congregation; nonetheless, Paul encourages participation from all. Paul’s confidence was not in the Corinthians to keep the gathering from mayhem, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Today there are many churches far more mature that would never permit an open pulpit; such is not the way of the way it is.
Psalm 12:6: The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.
Behind Paul’s teaching is the Holy Spirit. His instructions are actually “the words of the Lord” to be held in high esteem. However most fundamentalist congregations totally ignore Paul’s inspired teaching and instead embrace the practices of the way it is.
The assembly not bowing to the Word is not bowing to the Holy Spirit. Slighting the Holy Spirit is slighting Lord Jesus, the One who sent Him.
Matthew 15:9: Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
Or, “Teaching as doctrine the commandments of” the way it is.
The teaching that one person (or a few), licensed and salaried, is to give leadership, control the pulpit, and give direction is taught, not so much by word (because there is no such instruction in the Bible), but by example. The tendency of us all is to assume the way it is is the way it is because that’s the way things are supposed to be; so no one challenges. It is assumed that behind these customs is God (that is, God authorizing them).
John 14:26: He will teach you all things,
How does the Holy Spirit teach the assembly “all things”? He teaches “all things” through all. The assembly that is taught by a denominational ‘minister’ is limited to the understanding of that denomination.
It is assumed (we seem to be full time, professional assumers) that the one who exhorts every Sunday morning is the wisest in the congregation, the one to be most trusted. In some cases that is true, but certainly not all. Often the one controlling the pulpit is given control because of his proven loyalty to the way it is. In fact, he is the most religious of the entire congregation. If he were loyal to “the words of the Lord” he would not be preaching Sunday after Sunday after Sunday; he would make sure many share the pulpit.
1 Peter 5:1-3: The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly: not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;
Elders are to “shepherd the flock of God…. serving as overseers”. Primarily, this is to be done by “being examples”, and not via the pulpit. “Being examples” implies being involved in people’s lives, conversing, rubbing shoulders.
In the gathering of the saints elders should encourage everybody to bow to the leading of the Holy Spirit so that….. He speaks through those of His choosing…. the gifts are exercised according to His prompting…. the meeting flows as He wills. At the end of the service each elder should be able to pray, “Lord Jesus, we earnestly tried to submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Please correct us if we missed it, and help us to do better next time.”
Matthew 9:9: “Follow Me.”
Elders are to point to Christ and say, “Follow Him.” He, not they, must be the One they lean on, trust in, relate to, adulate, obey. The elders are to preach/teach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” They are never (never, never) to make “disciples after themselves” (Ac.20:30), exaggerate their own importance, or in any way become the focus of the assemblage.
They must encourage young believers to develop a living day-by-day relationship with Jesus, and to depend on the Holy Spirit to teach them and empower them to finish their specific “course”. (Ac.13:25), the specific cross God has commissioned them to carry.
1 Corinthians 14:26: Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation.
Saturday evening finds ‘Pastor’ Whoever in his study sincerely entreating the Holy Spirit for guidance to prepare tomorrow morning’s forty-five minute sermon. Before the pastor begins his Sunday morning discourse he publicly appeals to the Lord, asking for His anointing upon the message, requesting that the people have “ears to hear”, and that he would speak with boldness and clarity the oracles of God.
It all has a solemn flair. Everything packaged neat and safe. But how far from
1 Corinthians 14:26! How far from many other verses. How far from the intention and instruction of the One we call “Lord, Lord”, “the head of the church”.
‘Pastor’ Whoever never considered inquiring of the Holy Spirit who (if anyone) was to give the teaching. The (sacred) way it is has commissioned him so he does not require the permission of the Holy Spirit! He is simply doing what he is paid to do and that’s that.
The Holy Spirit is not lord of this pastor or this congregation.
Romans 8:9: the Spirit of Christ,
I have said one cannot have the Spirit without Christ; it is a package deal. It is also true one cannot have Christ without the Spirit. Rejecting the leadership of the Holy Spirit is rejecting Christ. A congregation (or an individual) that has little of the Spirit likewise has little of Jesus.
You have heard it said, “God is as big as you make Him.” It is a matter of faith and obedience. God works as powerfully as (to the degree that) the congregation obeys His Word and submits to the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30: do not grieve the Holy Spirit
How is the Holy Spirit grieved?
The Holy Spirit is grieved by any gathering whereby Jesus is not the focus, whereby the cross is unappreciated, whereby attention is riveted on something or someone other than God. He is grieved when He is ignored; He can give so much, do so much, more than all those present combined, but because He is who He is the Holy Spirit only gives leadership upon invitation. That invitation is rarely given and the people suffer loss.
He is grieved when leadership wants to use Him to empower projects and programs birthed from god reason and god intellect. The Holy Spirit is grieved when His inspired Word is disobeyed, made “of no effect” by the traditions of men. He is grieved when the sheep of the Good Shepherd are fleeced, coerced to finance unsanctioned visions and unsanctioned paychecks.
He is grieved by our packaged (canned) christianity, our organized religiosity that denies the power of God. He is grieved by men-gazing, pastor-worship, divided loyalties, the division of Christ’s church into the special and not-so-special (‘ministerial’ and ‘laity’).
And when the Holy Spirit is grieved Jesus and the Father are equally grieved.
Ephesians 4:17 (NIV): you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
The local church is not to function “as the Gentiles do”. The Gentiles (non-christians) are limited by their minds, “the futility of their thinking”. If the Holy Spirit does not govern the church it will likewise be governed by god reason and god intellect.
1 Peter 2:9: you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people,
The Spirit of God desires to lead christians into truth, into total freedom, into intimacy with Him whose “name which is above every name” simply because we are “chosen… royal… holy… special”. How cherished we are.
1 Samuel 8:5: Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations.
You know the story. The Israelites did not want to be ruled by the prophets of God any longer, but by a king, just “like all the [other] nations.” God warned them, through Samuel His prophet, that such a choice would be the cause of much anguish – “he will take your sons…. will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest…. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers…. he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards…. he will take a tenth of your grain and vintage…. you will be his servants”. (1Sam.8:11-17) But in spite of this clear warning they insisted on having a king.
God has always wanted to govern the local assembly by His Holy Spirit, but assemblies have long ago given themselves over to “a king” (a pastor, a denomination). Likewise, God has always wanted to govern each individual by His Holy Spirit but, with rare exception, each has given himself over to the way it is.
As the Israelites paid a dear price for being ruled by a king, the church has likewise suffered the consequences of submerging itself in the way it is. What is that cost? That cost is nothing less than a vibrant relationship with the very “King of kings”.
1 Samuel 8:7: And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
Regarding assemblies that substitute the leadership of the Spirit with human organization, perhaps Jesus is saying to the Holy Spirit: “They have not rejected You, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”
1 Samuel 8:18: “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”
Jesus could say: “And you will cry out that day (at the judgement seat?) because of your king (the way it is?…. institutionalized christianity?) whom you have chosen for yourselves, and [I] will not hear you (give rewards you did not earn) in that day.”
There is little connection between the Holy Spirit and most Sunday services in evangelical churches. The assembly is sensitive, not to the Spirit, but to the way it is.
An assembly gathered under the dictates of tradition or a prearranged program is not gathered in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is religion that draws such people to church, not a yearning to be gathered in His name. And where Christ is not centralized the “Spirit of Christ” is most uncomfortable.
The black sheep of the family receives an invitation to a family reunion, assuring him his presence would be most appreciated. In reality, no one wants him to show up, but to exclude him would cause complications, so he gets the same invite as everyone. Relatives hope he doesn’t take the invitation seriously and spoil the party.
It is customary to invite the Holy Spirit to evangelical services; that’s the religious thing to do. But, in fact, He is often just as unwelcome as the black sheep, and some hope He doesn’t take their invitation seriously and disturb the program of That’s Just The Way It Is!.
You just know when the Spirit has come. There are tears…. or laughter…. or someone is saved…. or people are repenting and being transparent…. or jumping up and down…. or something! Jesus Christ is glorified…. people are happy…. there is true fellowship, spontaneity…. no one is in a hurry to leave…. there is a love flow.
Evangelical services are often a mixture of the way it is and the Holy Spirit, a reflection of the lives of most. Yes, the Holy Spirit shows up, just as He does in a catholic gathering, but He is certainly not revered. Those in control fear Him.
The Holy Spirit sometimes does strange things not at all acceptable to respectable pastors or respectable congregations. The Bible is full of God-induced incidents that would turn people off and conclude, “This can’t be God!”
Like circumcision. Why circumcision? Why, oh why would the Lord have men alter their private parts in such a painful manner as a sign of a covenant? Why not just have them cut their hair in a certain manner? Or wear a ring on a certain finger? Why circumcision?
And what about many other strange things that God did? Like speaking through a donkey. (Num.22:28) And spitting in a blind man’s eyes. (Mk.8:23) And having christians speak in foreign languages. (Mk.16:17)
“Let all things be done decently and in order” (1Cor.14:40) is interpreted to mean another boring meeting coming up. There are varying degrees of tolerance toward expressions of love toward God, but each assembly has limitations. Like dancing….
Most assemblies have an unwritten rule about dancing that goes something like this:
Clap your hands,
Even lift them up,
Yes, even over your head
If so inclined.
But please, please….
Do not dance in our church!
Hey, you can wave your arm,
Yes, both at once if that’s your thing.
Stand, sit or kneel;
There’s freedom in this place.
But please, please….
Do not dance in our church!
Sing loud, or sing soft,
Or just listen and be blessed.
If you really have to,
Shout, “Praise the Lord!”
But please, please….
Do not dance in our church!
You can stomp your feet,
But only one at a time,
Because both at once,
Might look like you’re….
You know…. dancing in our church!
Dancing makes the pastor sweat
And pew-people fret.
What would visitors think
Of such fleshly display?
So please, please….
Do not dance in our church!
Sunday service is not fellowship, no more than the crowd listening to a comedian or a politician. Fellowship is sharing, it is reciprocal; it is more than listening to a man display his spiritual wares.
Thank God for the 22 minutes of song and praise at the start of the service! Were it not for those 22 minutes more than half wouldn’t show up.
Some think of this time of praise as little more than spiritual fluff – the real meat is in the preaching of the Word. In fact, there is much Word in most of the songs we sing. Songs are usually Christ-centred. Simple truths are sung over and over causing them to go deep in one’s spirit.
During praise time everyone participates…. and then they sit and become an audience once more. Thank God for those precious 22 minutes!
Many years ago Kathryn Khulman compared the Holy Spirit to a beautiful white stallion that cannot be tamed by man. People try to build a corral around him and limit his freedom, but she warned that one day the beautiful horse would jump the fence and be gone. He cannot be corralled.
Sometimes leadership uses the things of God to accomplish their purposes. (That’s why the collection is taken after the 22 minutes.) A visitation of the Holy Spirit will attract people, people who could be used to fulfill an un-sanctioned vision, and therefore the Holy Spirit is given a limited welcome. When He comes the corral starts to go up, one board at a time, in an effort to keep things under control. But one morning the beautiful stallion is gone; He has jumped the fence. And everything has returned to That’s Just The Way It Is!.
The way it is wants everything under its control. The use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is limited to a few. Prophecy is often despised because it is uncontrollable. Expressions of worship are limited. Few are allowed behind the pulpit. The assembly is coerced to give money to finance leadership’s agendas. Individual ministries must be brought under the watchful eye of the pastor.
Independence from the assembly is frowned upon. Dependence upon the Holy Spirit is considered insufficient. Life is not just “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”, but “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” and submission to the church, a combination of infallible God and very fallible christians.
Where there is little of the Holy Spirit there is little of Jesus Christ. Where there is little of Jesus there is a scarcity of life and good fruit.
——————————————————-A TRIBUTE TO JESUS CHRIST
“all things were made through him” (Jn.1:3)
green in the grass
warm in the hug
salt in the oceans
glitter in the stars
high in the sky
sweet in the grape
fresh in the flower
hope in the heart
colour in the eye
cool in the evening
speckles on the fawn
dew in the garden
heat in the sun
round in the moon
blood in the vein
humour in the heart
buzz in the bee
fierce in the lion
wisdom in the ant
cry in the suckling