Word of the Day
I saw something recently that really caught my attention and shocked me at its plain truth. And I apologize to the person who wrote it for not having taken notice of his/her name so I could give proper credit. It said that the modern church is stuck somewhere between the resurrection and Pentecost. Seeing that rocked me to the core because it is so true! Today’s church is reveling in the resurrection but has totally ignored the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us, to empower us.
If this statement be true, we are not even up to the time when the disciples assembled in the Upper Room. Now don’t get started on that “praying the Holy Ghost down” idea that suggests the disciples “prayed His down.” No, the gift of the Holy Spirit is the result of Jesus’ prayer for the church(John 14:16, 26; 15:26). Being humans the disciples had no clue about Who the Spirit is nor what His office is, so how would they have known to even ask for Him?
Confusion reigned between the resurrection and Pentecost. The disciples were baffled at the events, simply because human minds cannot grasp spiritual things (ICor.2:14). If anything, they feared for their lives. They had seen Jesus executed and how did they know they wouldn’t be next? So, they found a place they felt would be safe and stayed there. Now I’m sure they did some praying, but it was more for safety than anything else.
Why do I say that? Simply because it was only when the Holy Spirit came on them were they bold enough to venture out into public. Only He can give born-again believers courage enough to present themselves as believers.
Having said all this, what does this have to do with prayer? Simply this, Jesus had said that when the Spirit came, He would speak only of Jesus, would guide the believers into all truth and would bring into the believers memory all things that He had said to them(John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). In the discourse that covers John chapters 13-16, Jesus also spoke about prayer and the Spirit’s involvement in our praying. So search the Book of Acts and mark all the emphasis on prayer(4:23-31; 6:1-4; 9:40; 12:5-12; 13;1-3). Was this natural for these men to do, or is it possible that it was the Spirit’s work in them?
“My House shall be called the House of Prayer…”(Matt.21:13; italics mine). In this same verse Jesus also said, “…but ye have made it a den of thieves…”. Looking at today’s church, it would be very difficult to call it a “House of prayer” because that is the one thing that we put very little emphasis on. Can we say that the modern church has become a “den of thieves”? With all the emphasis on money, on material things, on beauty in the sanctuary, on the latest gadgets, I’ll let you answer that.
We want to blame society’s turn to evil in the form of banning public prayer, abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage etc. for the ills of our country. That is a valid accusation, but will it hold biblical water? Is it not true that the church stands alone as the moral and righteous arbiter of any group of people? Is it not true that the church sets the standard for morality, for purity, for righteousness, for godliness? Is it not also true that the Bible declares that man’s heart is wicked(Gen.6:5; Jer.17:9)? If that is true, how can we blame the world for its own wickedness when that is all that the heart knows.
So, then who is to blame? Blaming the world has gotten us nowhere–just a society that goes from bad to worse. Does not the Bible and history itself teach us that moral dictates come only from God’s Word? Does not it stand to reason that only the church can declare righteousness, simply because only the church has any access or knowledge of morality?
So just how did we get to where we are today? Simply because, as a New Testament Church, we have not arrived at Pentecost. We believe and preach the resurrection just as faithfully as we know how. We declare that the Tomb is empty, that Jesus ascended into Heaven, that He is Lord and that He is coming back. But, the focus on the Spirit of God is just not there. We have ignored Him to the point that He almost does not even exist. Our preaching, our teaching, our leading is all with “…the words which man’s wisdom teacheth…”(I Cor.2:13). No longer is it the “…wisdom…which the Holy Ghost teacheth…”(I Cor.2:13).
What has happened? Is it possible that we have educated ourselves beyond our intellect(Jerry Clower)? Is it possible that the emphasis on education has edged out the focus on “…comparing spiritual this with spiritual…”? And because of our climbing the social and intellectual ladder, have we not abandoned our dependence upon God and His provision for us and His Church?
And just look at where we are today! Who among us can boast of how great and powerful the church is today? Who among would be so daring to stand and declare how far we have advanced as a church? Or, must we fall on our faces, cast ourselves on His mercy, confess our sins and return to the “old paths”(Jer.6:16; 18:15)?