Filled with Power Beyond Ourselves
Vance Havner, a Baptist revivalist (who had a way with words) of the mid-19th century once said, “We are not going to move this world by criticism of it or conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.” The early church had none of the things that we think are so essential for success today – buildings, money, political influence, social status – and yet the church won multitudes to Christ and saw many churches established throughout the Roman world. Why? Because the church had the power of the Holy Spirit energizing its ministry. They were a people who ‘were ignited by the Spirit of God.’
My prayer for us is that we become a people “ignited by the Spirit of God.” The good news is that same Holy Spirit power is available to us today to make us more effective witnesses / testimonies for Christ. The better we understand his working at Pentecost, the better we will be able to relate to him and experience his power. The ministry of the Spirit is to glorify Christ in the life and witness of the believer.
This week we will look again at a brief series leading up to the Advent season. We want to consider during these weeks what it means to be a church. What is God’s call upon us as His people? What does it mean for us to live out God’s purpose in our lives – both individually and corporately? What will it take for us to fulfill God’s calling as a church? How will we generate the resources to finance this work?
These are the big questions that we will think through in the coming weeks. However, what we will find is that the questions we address will be quite practical and personal. Being a reformed church in the Bible belt of the south is, ironically, difficult and exhausting. The populist religion of the south often seems distant from the biblical model we find in Scriptures. Hence, a reformed church is often viewed with suspicion in the deep south. Thus, we are not only going against the culture of southern society, but we are also moving counterculture to the contemporary church itself. If we are going to do this, it will require something, or someone, beyond us.
Indeed, we will see that without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, even impossible. There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from his fruit, and no effective witness without his power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.
Yet God has promised to empower us to follow his call. What do we do and where can we go when we are tired? Join us this November as we take a journey ‘beyond ourselves’[i] and into the grace of God that not only sustains but renews us. Come and experience what the Lord’s grace is doing in us, among us, around us and through us as he takes us ‘beyond ourselves’ for the service of the Kingdom.
We will begin where the new covenant church began on the day of Pentecost. We invite you to join us this Lord’s Day as we consider being filled with a power beyond ourselves from Acts 2. Will you take it to heart to pray regularly for the ‘life of God in the soul of our church’?
By His Power,
* I am indebted to Mark D. Roberts, a Presbyterian TE, for the inspiration of this series’ theme: Beyond Ourselves