The Holy Spirit gives us mandatory and indispensable tools to build with as co-laborers with Christ. Without these required tools, the church will be weakened, ineffective and stunted in its growth. The church will not and cannot be built correctly without the Holy Spirit’s gifts-tools. Period!
Now then, and we must hear this loud and clear:
“ANY BUILDER THAT INTENDS TO BUILD A HOUSE CERTAINLY WOULD NOT
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY DISCARD OR RECKLESSLY
LOSE HIS TOOLS.”
You can be sure that the Holy Spirit hasn’t lost or discarded His tools either. And more than that:
“IF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S TOOLS ARE NOT BEING USED TO BUILD HIS CHURCH,
THAT MEANS THEREFORE THAT CHRIST IN THAT INSTANCE IS
NOT DOING THE BUILDING, MEN ARE
Scary! Real scary! In such a case, the church then becomes a human invention-institution and not the Divinely constructed church. I don’t know about you, but I want the real thing. Not copies but the original. If you will:
“THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE SUPERNATURAL PRODUCT OF SUPER-
NATURAL TOOLS WHICH HAVE SUPERNATURAL EFFECTS
UPON NATURAL LIVES.“
The Church of Jesus Christ is not designed to entertain, amuse, titillate and soothe human minds and emotions. It is designed to save sin-sick souls and change totally deformed characters. Easier said than done! No simple task! Herculean! Far above us! It requires nothing short of supernatural means for such supernatural results.
The Church of Jesus Christ is in this world to replace universal vice with universal virtue. If you will, to turn sinners into saints, vultures into doves, and goats into sheep! To replace wanton lust with the love of purity, fierce cruelty with tender compassion, and systemic self-absorbed covetousness with selfless liberality! To change unbelievers into believers, and atheists into theists! To help guilty sinners be brought to innocence in Christ. In short:
“TO CHANGE SOMEONE WHO PREYS AND SINS INTO SOMEONE WHO PRAYS
AND SINGS PRAISES TO GOD.“
To make those very daunting challenges more intimidating still, the battle between truth and falsehood, righteousness and sin, light and darkness is becoming far more aggressive and intense. Recently in a worship service at Mt. Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan, one of the larger Assembly of God churches in America, a gang of homosexuals defiled the house of God by breaking into the Divine worship service, shouting obscenities, throwing condoms at the congregants, and generally showed that they were leagued with Satan by screaming and carrying on like Hell.
That is what the sin-sick and perverted world has come to! Let me explain some things here! Sin has made foul progress in our society. Sin in the soul of American society has been rotting and becoming more and more rancid for a long time now, and we must expect more of this in the future.
Why? Because we must come to grips with the fact that sin is not simply unrighteousness. To be sure it is that, but it is far more than that. It is anti-righteousness. Sin is not just a morally rotten state of being, though it is that. It is an anti-God, anti-righteousness dark force in the souls and lives of men. Remember:
“SIN IS NOT ONLY THE OPPOSITE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS BUT IT IS
VIOLENTLY OPPOSED TO RIGHTEOUSNESS.“
I mean, think about it if you will. I am reminded of the Apostle John’s words in I John 2:18,
“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that anti-Christ is coming,
even now many anti-Christs have arisen; from this we know
that it is the last hour.”
Without going deeply into that text, though I am surely drawn to do so, suffice it to say that the world is not simply full of unbelievers – unChristians. Oh to be sure it is, but it is far more hostile than that. The world is not merely unChristian, but far more, it is anti-Christian. If you will, “Anti-Christ!” That antiness, says the Apostle John, will become more and more evident in the last days. Be ready for it! Prepare your churches for it!
Now then, how do you propose that we reach such an anti-God world? We are told how in the Bible! When Christ ushered in His church, He did so by the Holy Spirit’s miraculous, wondrous and even frightening gifts. The Holy Spirit shocked the world with a church that was supernaturally potent. Why? Because He knew that the church would never overcome the world’s sinful hardness and hatefulness if she was not empowered to astonish, convince and even panic them into believing. The superabundance of evil will not be reversed without the supernatural power of God.
It is how the resurrected and ascended Christ launched His church which is the key to understanding how He was going to sail it – by the supernatural wind of the Holy Spirit. Not only to supernaturally introduce it, but to supernaturally establish and advance it. A supernaturally gifted church for all time!
14. GOD – THE TAKE-BACK GIVER
There are so many out there today in the church world who need to be taught the fundamentals of gifts and giving, whether by God to us or by us to God. It is kind of embarrassing to have to do this, for it seems so elementary. Even Santa Claus would not need this kindergarten lesson about the essence of giving.
First, people must be helped in realizing a simple fact, and that is that God’s grace gifts to us are in fact exactly that – GRACE GIFTS. They are not loans nor are they leased to us for twenty four months like cars. There are no term limits on God’s gifts, as if they will be canceled or taken away after the term has expired. A bona fide gift is not something you give and then take back. If you will:
“A TRUE GIFT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT IS GIVEN AND THEN WITHDRAWN.”
Not in my family, and certainly not in God’s family! I would hope not in yours either. That would not be a gift, but rather a cruel gotcha! You thought that it was yours, but too bad, I want it back. What kind of sicko would play that kind of game?
Can anyone imagine what they are implying about God when they teach that He gives gifts and then grabs them back? People who teach that really do not even know what they are saying. They are in fact calling God, “The Take-Back Giver.” This of course would be portraying Him as no giver at all! The Bible says in Romans 11:29,
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Where you read the word gifts, it is exactly the same Greek noun found in I Corinthians 12:1-11 – CHARISMATA – GRACE GIFTS.
True, the gifts of God to us are His to begin with, but in giving them to His church, they now become the church’s property and the church’s responsibility. Think about it! For a gift to be a gift indeed, it requires the surrender of all right to it on the part of the giver. Without that, the gift is not a real gift, for it really hasn’t changed hands.
Excuse me for the vain sounding thing that I am about to say – the batteries are included! That is to say, they come to us with the power of the Holy Spirit included. No other power source will work, for without the power of the Holy Spirit infusing His gifts, they will fizzle and flop. Just as a river comes complete with the current, the Holy Spirit’s gifts come with the power to produce what God intends them to produce. If you will:
“THE EFFECTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GIFTS ARE NOT DUE TO HUMAN ENDEAVOR
BUT TOTALLY DUE TO DIVINE ENERGY.
Why do I say that? Very simple and yet very profound! I recall the time when in the church I laid hands upon someone for healing, and that person was healed. I didn’t even realize at the time that the Holy Spirit’s gift of healing was taking place. You know don’t you how fun and feisty teenagers can be. The healing was soon reported, and my teenage son said to me, “Boy Dad, you really have the hot hand!” Kids will be kids. But there was enough sting in the humor so that I winced at his comment. I explained to him that it had nothing to do with my hot hand. Nothing! It was only and totally the power of God. He said, “Yah, I know Dad, I was only kidding.” I said, “Knowing human nature son, you were and you weren’t.”
The Holy Spirit gives to and through His people gifts of healing. It does not say that He gives us healers. Listen:
“THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS DIVINE HEALERS, JUST DIVINE HEALING.”
Let’s get our terminology straight here. God did not give us healers, but Jesus in whom there is healing, which then is given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Second, the church must be reminded of the fact that there has to be the acceptance of the gifts on the part of those to whom they are given. I know that this is “run Dick run, go get the ball” stuff. But it is exactly these fundamental principles that are being violated by those who teach that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have been withdrawn by God. No they have not! Hear this:
“THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HAVE NOT BEEN TAKEN BACK BY GOD, BUT
THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ACCEPTED BY MUCH OF THE CHURCH
There it is! God graciously is the Giver, and our part is simply to thankfully to receive. The only thing that can keep us from being blessed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to reject what is being freely offered to us. Giving and receiving are the two component parts of true gifts. The gifts cannot really be gifts or given if they are not accepted.
Let me put it another way. Giving is a “Relational Action.” If you will, giving is a “Relative Action” which requires a “Correlative Receiving Action” to it. The Divine Giver and the human receivers! God gives, but the church must accept and exercise the gifts. In short:
“GOD IS READY TO DO HIS PART, BUT NOT TO DO BOTH HIS AND OURS TOO.”
Much of the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the ages has failed in its correlative role not only, but has in many instances blatantly said to God the Holy Spirit, “No, we don’t want Your gifts, we refuse them.” God is always more willing to give than we are to receive. The problem is not on God’s end, but on our end. It has been a breaking of the co-relationship with God the Holy Spirit. Most grievous! God have mercy!
Rejected! What an awful word! The Christian Church has decried the rejection by the Jews of God’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ as their Messiah. That same Christian Church has been grievously guilty of the rejection of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and thereby rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit Himself. An awful state of affairs that continues to this day! Rejection! What a terrible, terrible word, especially when GOD IS THE REJECTEE and MAN IS THE REJECTOR. It is in effect making the Holy Spirit a REJECT.
There is an ancient story about a botanist who was studying the heather bell found in the highlands of Scotland. While looking through the microscope at this beautiful flower, he was approached by a shepherd who asked him what he was doing. Rather than try to explain, the botanist invited the shepherd to peer through his microscope and observe for himself. When the shepherd saw the wonder of the flower, he exclaimed, “My God, and I have been trampling on them all my life.” So many are trampling on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit today!
But I want to end here on a note of legitimate optimism. I sense something very positive in the modern Christian world, and have in fact sensed it for some time. There is a strong undercurrent of people who are not settling any longer for the brush-off, “Because our forefathers believed that way, and they all cannot be wrong.” For them, the cry has been as it was with Martin Luther, “If the Word of God says it that settles it. And if the Word of God does not say it that settles it also! Here I stand, and I can do none else.”
The great Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and the great worldwide Charismatic renewal of the last half of the 20th century proved once again the heartening and incontrovertible fact:
“HISTORY CAN BURY TRUTH, BUT TRUTH WILL RISE AGAIN.”
If you will:
“YOU CAN’T BURY TRUTH FOREVER.”
The Lord reassures us in Matthew 24:35,
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”