Present But Missing

"Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?, he asked them. No he replied. We don't know what you mean. We haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." Acts 19:2......"We're a Church birthed in the Holy Spirit, afraid of the Holy Spirit." John Bevere

 

This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, and I was blessed to be able to share His Word not only in our own Saturday night worship, but in a sister church on Sunday morning, Pentecost Sunday. The question I asked in both places was whether Pentecost Sunday was just a day we paraded out once a year to memorialize an event that happened 2000 plus years ago, and then put away for another year until the next time it came around? It turns out, it may not even be that.

In my last writing, I wrote on the events of the upper room, the pouring out of His Holy Spirit, and the mighty power that came upon the Church as a result. I got quite a bit of positive response on that, which is always a blessing, but one in particular grieved me deeply. It came from a great friend and former roommate back when we both studied for the ministry at our Bible College. Before I share, let me tell you that he's not a reactionary kind of guy, doesn't sit in a church looking for things to point out as wrong, and has never been a "professional critic," but his words bear listening to. He's now a hospital chaplain in the Kansas area and shared with me that in the seven years since he has left the pastorate, he has not heard one sermon on the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church he presently attends, or in any that he's visited. He said in his own church this past Pentecost Sunday, no mention of the Holy Spirit was made in either the message or any of the songs sung. The fact that it was Pentecost Sunday was never mentioned. His wife contacted her two sisters, both attendees of Wesleyan holiness churches and asked if any such emphasis had been presented in their churches. Not only did they say no, they themselves didn't even know it was Pentecost Sunday. My friends final words bear repeating; "Until Christianity today seeks to be endued with Power from on High, I'm afraid we're in for a long period of Babylonian exile." Overreaction? I don't think so. Indeed, I know it is not so.

Francis Chan wrote a books several years ago titled "Forgotten God," detailing the lack of focus on His Holy Spirit and the neglect of a large part of the professing Church of His ministry and purpose in the Church. John Bevere and Francis Frangiapane and Dutch Sheets are other voices who have said the same. These are current voices, but A.W. Tozer was writing and speaking on this more than half a century ago. He called it a "tragedy in the Church." It is and remains so. The question is, why is this so? Why do we ignore,neglect, and fear His Holy Spirit so? Why is it that Paul's question in Acts 19 to the believers in Ephesus, whether they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed, can be asked of so many believers in so many churches and receive the same answer as Paul did? "We didn't even know there was a Holy Spirit." At least, not in personal experience.

I think part of the "problem," if I can use that word, is that we have so emphasized Jesus' words and actions in the gospels, to the point of disregarding all the rest of New Testament Scripture. The result is a Church that seeks to emulate the life and ministry of Christ while lacking the Holy Spirit power that Jesus Himself commanded His disciples to wait upon and seek from the Father. I do not take even a letter away from the words that Jesus spoke, but somehow, we seem to forget, or miss entirely, that He spoke as well to and through Paul, Peter, James, and more through the pages of His Word. Paul told us to rightly divide the "whole Word of God." We cannot render portions of it to a secondary status. The Holy Spirit spoke and speaks still. He ministered and ministers still. He endued with power, and He still endues with power. He is not a missing God, but I fear He is missing from the lives of far too many of His people, and far too much of His Church. Is He missing from your life, and your church? I saw one translation of "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed," as, "Have you entered into where Jesus is?" Have we, really, fully?

 

I used to hear a great many voices crying out for revival. I am not hearing many doing so now. In too many instances we have complacently accepted a comfortable sameness to our weekly gatherings. Maybe what we need now is reformation. A Holy Spirit led and empowered reformation of His Church. A fresh move of His Spirit bringing forth a new and mighty Body of Christ. He makes all things new. I am longing to see such newness of Life in His people and Church. In fact, more than a wishful longing. A heart cry.  Do you long for this, cry out for it as well? Or will He continue to be the forgotten Member of the three in One God in our lives and His Church? Missing from both. Present, yet missing. What greater tragedy can there be?

Blessings,
Pastor O

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