Home > Brian's Blogs, Missional Church, Theology > What the Church Really Needs (2)

What the Church Really Needs (2)

Previously I discussed what the church really needs: the Holy Spirit. Today I want to use Jim Cymbala’s Fresh Power to further explain the necessity of the Holy Spirit in the church today.

Cymbala’s basic thesis is this:

  1. The Holy Spirit’s power is our greatest need.
  2. This power and blessing is freely promised to all of God’s people.
  3. This promise can only be fully received through sincere praying in faith and through waiting on God for his blessing to come.

Let’s tease this out biblically for a moment.

First, the Bible teaches that every Christian is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). Therefore, in this respect, every Christian possesses the Holy Spirit.

Second, despite the presence of the seal of the Holy Spirit, the Bible teaches that it is possible to receive a “filling” of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Throughout the Bible, it is this filling/leading/power of the Holy Spirit that enables Christians to fulfill the will of God. Luke tells us that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and preached in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14). Jesus promises this same power to his followers (Acts 1:8). Luke then records how the disciples lived according by the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4, etc). Later, when Paul prays for his churches, he prays that they would be given the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:14-21 and 6:10-20).

Third, the Bible shows that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). D.L. Moody makes this point in an extended quote:

“God has got a good many children who have just barely got life, but no power for service…The Holy Ghost coming upon them with power is distinct and separate from conversion. If the Scripture doesn’t teach [this statement] I am ready to correct it…I believe we should accomplish more in one week than we should in years if we had only this fresh baptism” (p. 110).

Fourth, the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit is about living a life that glorifies God and impacting the world for him, not about living a fat and cozy life. This is evident from the context of the biblical passages mentioned above, but it is important to note specifically. Cymbala is excellent on this point in his chapter titled “through many hardships.” In it he has a couple of great quotes, such as “If the Master whom we follow was crucified, on what basis do we think we will escape all trouble?” and “God is trying to do something more than just give us a smooth life. He is trying to make us like Jesus.” Clearly the filling of the Holy Spirit does not equal a comfortable life. Quite the opposite: the filling of the Holy Spirit often leads to greater persecution from the world around you!

I think Cymbala’s thesis is relatively easy to prove biblically. The problem is not in the thesis, the problem is that many (myself included) Christians practically reject his first point. We give lip service to the Holy Spirit, but how many of us truly view the Holy Spirit as our greatest need? How many of us pray for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit? How many of us cry out to the Spirit on even a daily basis? When we gather on Sunday mornings, how many times have we sung “Father we love you…Jesus we love you” but failed to sing the equally important third verse: “Spirit we love you”?

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a fresh need to be filled with the Spirit.

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