Have we stopped God's Spirit breaking out
As we enter into an exciting season of celebration in Elim with centenary events taking place across the regions, it is difficult not to reflect on where it all began?
However, I don't mean 1915 and the birth of Elim or even the development of the wider Pentecostal movement, but... where it all began! When the Holy Spirit invaded our reality, the birth of the church, the scattering of believers, where the 'church' began. Well, not where exactly, but rather how?
Most Christians will be more than familiar with Acts 2:42 and will have heard countless preaches on the first community of believers who devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, sharing of meals and prayer. However, it was John Stott that reminded us; a church that focuses on verse 42 and ignores verse 47 is somewhat lopsided.
"Each day the Lord added to their number all who were being saved". The reality was that the early New Testament church was birthed in evangelism. Individual and large groups encountered and responded to the Good News of Jesus on a daily basis.
The account in Acts also gives us insight into another essential element in the life of the church that we cannot afford to loose. That is, the relationship between miraculous encounter and evangelism. There were miracles, signs and wonders when the Gospel was shared. Indeed, Paul declares that he proclaimed fully the Good News about Christ (Romans 15:18 & 19) through means of words and deeds "I will be bold and speak only about what Christ has done through me to lead the Gentiles to obey God. He has done this by means or words and deeds, by the power of miracles and wonders and by the power of the Spirit of God.
And so... I have proclaimed fully the Good News about Christ". Whether it was prison escapes, angel appearances, the sick raised to their feet, limbs strengthened, sight, hearing or a sound mind restored, it is almost impossible to separate the declaration from the supernatural demonstration.
In recent years the church has had much debate over our approach to evangelism and whether demonstration or declaration should be the focus. Of course 'demonstration' may be taken to mean social intervention, bringing aid to those in need and indeed as Malcolm Duncan suggests in his book 'Kingdom Come', our proclamation of Jesus has social consequences, they are integrally linked. But, what of 'Demonstration of the power of God' in the miraculous supernatural. The answer is inevitably that they co-exist.
I wonder though in our deliberations if we have minimised demonstration of the power of God here and now as we faithfully declare the Good News of Jesus. As Acts 4:12-15 so aptly reminds us its difficult to argue with the evidence of a transforming God when it is “standing right among them”.
The early Elim days exhibited the relationship between the supernatural and evangelistic activity. In 1926 when George Jefferies formed the ‘Revival Party’, a group of anointed and gifted evangelists touring towns and cities with the Gospel, their experience was typically large crowds gathering in response to “sudden and dramatic healings”.
This led to the hire of larger venues to communicate the Good News of Jesus. God himself commanded the blessing and numerical growth. Jeffries described these times “I am having the best time of my life. Souls are continually flocking to Christ, most startling and marvelous healings, while yesterday hundreds were turned away an hour before the meeting”.
Has the great divorce of the mission of our church been to minimise the supernatural power of God for the miraculous in our evangelism? Have we restricted our faith to praying for those within the walls of our churches rather than allowing the Spirit of God to break out in all of our everyday life and interactions. Has our Gospel proclamation lost some of the signs and wonders that marked both the early church, the birth of Elim and evidences the God of all humanity irrefutably?
There is an air of excitement, anticipation and hunger as we step into a new season within the life of our movement. We long and pray for the days when we can report again that many are coming to Christ and being added to our number daily. We would do well to remember that the Good News of Jesus is even more effective when proclaimed alongside a demonstration of His supernatural power.
We would do better to recognise and cooperate with the Spirit at work in our world and relationships! We would do best to allow His supernatural power to work through us in our day to day mission. After all that's where it all began!
Question: How do you recognise and cooperate with the Spirit at work in your world and relationships? Leave a comment below.