Posted by: whereintheworldismike | December 24, 2014

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Formation, Pt 4

First a note: A Blessed Christmas to all who read this! Jesus, we celebrate your great name and pray we might be faithful until you come or call us home. Both Arabic and Japanese churches are waiting for the translation of Exponential Culture to be finished.  This photo of Mt Fuji was taken from a speeding bullet train on my last trip to Japan where about 100 pastors told me they would buy my book as soon as it becomes available. So I write funding proposals because Americans have not be humbled like my Japanese and Arabic brethren have been.Fuji

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Formation, Pt 4 continued:

In contrast when Luke wrote about Paul’s encounter at the Areopagus, he states, “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21 NIV). These discussions often centered on theology as the existence of an altar to the unknown god amidst the many worship articles attests. Today, there are many seminaries that devote themselves exclusively to the discussion of theological ideas. While this is important to refine future ministers’ theology, Paul’s admonishment to the believers in close proximity to the Greek theological debaters are important to note, and included these:

“And my speech and preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5 NKJV), and

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Cor. 4:20 NIV).

American Evangelicals, perhaps more than any other segment of Protestant Christianity have subscribed to Enlightenment thought in their understanding of faith and the Church. The result is a lot of talking about God, but increasing biblical illiteracy and a Church that has diminishing influence in an increasingly post-Christian culture. Charles Kraft notes that the signs of “Enlightenment Christianity” are:

  • A pervasive rationalism devoid of spiritual power
  • Doing things “decently and in order” (to an extreme)
  • Centering our church meetings on a lecture (with little or no exhortation)
  • Downplaying the value of experience
  • A tendency to think of God’s Word only as something written
  • The approach to evangelism and missions is primarily a matter of knowledge and technique
  • A tendency to think of medicine and doctors before we think of God (as Healer)
  • Secular social programs[1] devoid of a connection to references to God’s grace

When we lean too heavily on the power of our intellects, believers often lose the faith to believe God for miraculous healing, or other signs of his awesome power and grace. Many churches use a stopwatch to keep everything “on time” and “in order,” and in so doing leave very little opportunity for God’s Spirit to intervene and provide “demonstrations of the Spirit’s power” that strengthen the faith of believers.

[1] Kraft, Charles H. Christianity with Power. P. 41ff. (1989) (adapted)


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