Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A SPIRITUAL CHURCH

Have you noticed that those who are opposed to Christ and to virtue pursue their agenda with fearless and boundless resolve, while those who are committed to Christ and to virtue too often end up in cowardly compromise?

Our enemies are wrong, but we are weak. We are intimidated by their credentials, their wealth, and their influence in society. We fail to speak up for fear of sounding ignorant or old-fashioned. Our ambition to be successful and well thought of lures us to abandon principles and practices we once held with conviction. We compromise our principles, then justify our accommodation as "keeping up with the times," or "being relevant."

Why are we so weak?

A week ago I challenged our church to be a Soul-Winning church. (You may see our adaptation of J. B. Chapman's message "All Out for Souls!" at http://pastorrickjones.blogspot.com).

This week we urged the church to be a Spiritual Church. And here I believe is the crux of matter: Spirituality is essential to power. Until the Church experiences a revival of deep spirituality we will be powerless against the onslaught of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Without the power of God’s Holy Spirit we cannot understand, or stand for, or live out the truth.

When I searched the internet for “Spiritual Church” I was chagrinned to discover that the majority of links were to groups that worshipped ancestors, demons, and spirits that are not of God. It made me wonder how many people today even understand what a Spiritual church really is. Here is what we mean:

A Spiritual Church is a Church that is filled with the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Holiness, is led by the Holy Spirit, and is obedient to the Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord!

A Spiritual Church is a Church that worships in the Spirit, prays in the Spirit, is edified or “built up” by the Spirit, is unified in the Spirit, and loves one another in the Spirit. Amen!

A Spiritual Church is a Church that is purified by the Spirit, and is empowered by the Spirit to live out and proclaim the will of God. Hallelujah!

That’s the Church I want to be a part of. That’s the Church that God wants us to be. And that’s the Church that we will be, if we are willing to be! Spirituality is essential to power.

This kind of spirituality is well within our reach, IF only we will reach. Spirituality is proportional to sacrifice.

…If we will sacrifice ourselves to do the will of God, and only the will of God we will be spiritual.
The heart of the spiritual person is a million miles away from the legalist who obeys the letter but rejects the spirit of God’s law, and the liberal who disobeys the letter and dishonors the spirit of God's law. The spiritual man loves God and obeys the commandments of God outwardly and inwardly!

…If we will sacrifice our time to fervently and faithfully seek the face of God alone in prayer, we will be spiritual. How long has it been since you talked with the Lord? Have you made it a priority in your daily routine?

…If we will sacrificially give ourselves to loving God and our neighbors, we will be spiritual. Spiritual men go the extra mile. Spiritual men love the unlovable. Spiritual men never give up.

…If we will renounce the devil and all his works, along with the vain pomp and glory of this world, and the sinful desires of the flesh, we will be spiritual. Spiritual men do not try to see how worldly and disobedient they can be and still maintain their profession of faith. They despise the world, crucify the flesh, and hate the devil. “Whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4.

It’s no wonder that we are so weak.

Oh that God would clear out of our hearts and lives any obstacle to the free flow of His Holy Spirit. And may God make us a Spiritual people who are channels of blessing to our judgment bound world.

Jesus, fill now with Thy Spirit
Hearts that full surrender know;
That the streams of living water
From our inner self may flow.

Channels only, bless├Ęd Master,

But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.
By Mary E. Maxwell

ALL OUT FOR SOULS!

J.B. Chapman (1884-1947) was a minister and general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. He was the Editor of the Herald of Holiness.

At the close of the Second World War his Church was facing a crisis. As the Church was turning 40 years of age, Chapman was deeply concerned for the direction of his Zion.

He stood to address a gathering of leaders, he spoke prophetically. It is a message we still need today! We have revised and extended his remarks with the prayer that our Church will take up the challenge and go "All Out for Souls!"

The fault is deeper and more fundamental-there is not enough heartbreak over the lost, not enough soul burden, not enough groaning and weeping and fasting and crying. Moreover, and as a consequence, there is not enough deep and genuine conviction for sin among the unsaved of our families and friends.

Hypocrites are too comfortable in our presence, and in our meetings. Bickering and backbiting go with too little condemnation.

Sour holiness, bitter devotion to persons and causes, lightness in the homes and in the churches, worldliness, love of ease and occupation with silly social conventionalities among the women, covetousness and love of money among the men, contentment with the mediocre, delight in nice clothes and comfortable homes, measuring men by the salaries they receive, and weighing people by the position they occupy-all these things get by with too little reproof because the light is not bright enough to discover their devilish origin.

Newton said he had observed that when men are getting religion they have a tendency to be hard on themselves and easy on other people. But when they are losing religion or are already backslidden, they have a tendency to be easy on themselves and hard on other people.

Nine-tenths of the bickering and faultfinding and suspicion and criticism among us would disappear if we were properly joined up in an all-out crusade for souls.

We are callous and indifferent when we are prayerless.

We are dictatorial when we are legalistic, rather than spiritual.

We are critical when we skewer the faults of others, to take attention away from our own inward sense of badness.

It is almost easier to reverse a man who is going in the wrong direction than to start one who has stopped. Stagnation is a more dangerous estate than faulty agitation. Brethren, we are not in so much danger of going the wrong way as we are in danger of not going at all!

We are not as menaced by too much enthusiasm, as we are paralyzed by an increasing stagnation. We are all too complacent. (Definition: –adjective 1. pleased, esp. with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied: i.e. The voters are too complacent to change the government.)

I. A RENEWED PEOPLE

I would be untrue both to you and to myself if I stood up here and said this is an easy task. But I would also be untrue if I stood here and said the task cannot be done.

If I said the days of revivals have passed, and that we are doing as well as could be expected, I would be saying what I do not believe, and what you know is not true. This work can be done.

It can be done. It can be done. My soul is so stirred that I feel like saying, It can be done. It can be done either with the present leadership or in spite of it.

It will take a changed leadership to bring it about, but that change can come in the present personnel as well as it could come by a change in personnel. Our church needs a new pastor.

May God grant this Pastor will become new men!

We need new people in our pews. May God grant us new ones, either by making us new or by replacing us with the type of men God designs us to be!

I am afraid of that kind of leadership that concerns itself principally with its own ease and safety. I am afraid of that cautious leadership that is so afraid it will make mistakes that it makes the greatest of all mistakes -not undertaking anything worthwhile. I do not come here today to criticize you or myself for the way we do things.

Rather I feel deeply criticized about the way we don't do things. And I know you know I appreciate all that all of you are doing and trying to do. But my soul is stirred because we have not seemed to do the one thing most needful-lead on in a soul-saving crusade.

We have run the machine; we have made some noise; we have reached some significant records, and built an impressive church, and run a large Sunday School.

But, brethren, these ought we to have done and not to have left the spiritual aggressiveness undone. We have done good things, but we have made a poor showing with the best things.

We have been occupied with the means, and have not in sufficient measure reached the end. We should have done what we have done without accounting it the purpose.

We should do these things again, and better, but should turn more definitely to the one thing that can keep us from becoming just another church. Just a people with a circle of influence, and a nest of static contentment!

I am thinking of the future-the near future-when I lift the battle cry once and again.

Nothing is more important than soul passion, soul burden, souls! Souls! Souls that are lost! Souls for whom Christ died!

Souls which are near and dear to us! Souls for whom we care and for whom we pray! Souls for whom no one cares and for whom no one prays! Souls! All out for souls!

Congregation! all out for souls! All out for souls in 2009! All out for souls! All out for souls!

II. A REKINDLED LOVE

I know you can operate the machinery of the church, and I want you to do these things. But I would not make these the standard by which to measure your fitness for your present task. I ask you, Do you love souls?

Do you find it possible to pray for souls with heartbreak and with tears? Do you make souls your aim?

I know we ask our evangelists to do these things. I know we want pastors to be like that. But I ask you, Are you like that?

How long since you have gone through the throes of birth pains for the deliverance of the ungodly?

And I must not excuse myself. I feel like I need to get down here at this altar and wrap my arms around it, and stay there until God breaks in on me in such a manner that this service will become an upper room from which streams of Pentecostal blessing may break forth to bring the dawn of a new crusade for souls throughout this land and around the world.

I feel that my own soul is lonesome for the company of those other souls which I am to have with me when I come at last to heaven's gate. And I expect the ticket I hold to read, not, "Admit one," but, "Admit two," or, "Admit ten," or, "Admit a hundred." And it will be embarrassing if the Chief Shepherd must ask, "Where are the other nine?" or, "Where are the other ninety and nine?"

III. A REVIVED CHURCH


Brethren, I was born in the fire, and I cannot endure the smoke. I am a child of the bright daylight, and mists and fogs and depressing gloom are not to my liking.

I want to go all out for souls. The revival I seek is not the product of the labors of some personality-plus evangelist. Such a revival is too detached and impersonal to meet my needs or to answer my prayers.

I want that kind of revival that comes in spite of the singing, the preaching, the testimonies, and the human attractions and detractions. I want that kind of revival because it takes that kind to really revive me.

I want a revival that, like a summer shower, will purify the atmosphere of our churches everywhere, and which will awaken the dormant forces of our people young and old.

I want something so general and so divine that it will be uncontrollable. I want something that will re-emphasize old-time moral and spiritual conditions.

Something that will reform and regenerate drunkards and save respectable worldlings.

Something that will bring in the youth and the little children.

Something so attractive that it will break over into the circles of the pleasure-loving.

Something that will set people on their back tracks to make restitution for wrongs committed.

Something that will bring God to bear upon our domestic problems to save our people from the twin evils of divorce and race suicide.

Something that will inject old-time honesty, veracity, purity, and other-world-mindedness into our preachers and people.

Something that will make this namby-pamby, soft-handed, compromising, cringing sort of holiness as obsolete as Phariseeism was on the Day of Pentecost.

Something that reveals a man's credentials by means of souls saved and sanctified and established in Christ Jesus.

And, brethren, I propose that we come down off our high horses, and that we get down before God in sackcloth and dust and ashes, and that we pray until we pray. That we then preach until we preach with unction, and that we win the victory for God and for souls. And then as Sunday School Workers and Deacons and a Congregation…we win the victory for God and for souls!

TRYING IS NOT ENOUGH!

In the heat of a battle in our American Civil War a Confederate general called a corps commander to him and said, "General, go out there and take that fortified hill."

The corps commander answered, "I'll try, sir." But the general answered, "I did not tell you to try. I told you to go and take it." The corps commander answered, "I'll do it or die, sir." Then the general said, "I did not say, Take it or die, I said, Take that hill." Then the corps commander turned his horse and started, saying back over his shoulder, "I'll take it, General." And he did take it.

Trying is not enough. Dying is not enough. We must take this fortified hill. We must take it, brethren, we must take it. Ml out for souls!

Brethren, all out for souls. All out for souls! This is the order of our great Commander in Chief speaking from Calvary, from Olivet, and from His throne now high and lifted up. Our answer is, "We will do it, blessed Lord; we will do it!"