Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Missionary Spirit Is Also the Spirit of Truth

I once wrote a book about the marks of a "New Testament" church. Others have written about the marks of a "healthy" church (Dever) or a "living" church" (Stott). The book of Acts is a needed corrective to our perhaps poorly stated titles. Acts is a reminder to us that Christian history is not merely a record of the acts of men but the revelation of a Spirit-founded, Spirit-constituted, Spirit-guided, and Spirit-filled church. To call the church a "New Testament" church or a "healthy" church or a "living" church is true and useful, but such language may blind us to the great revelation made in the book of Acts that all of the accomplishments of the church are consequences of the Spirit's decent upon in it in Acts 2. Acts does not begin with "Go" but "Wait" -- wait for the missionary Spirit who impels us to missionary work as he labors in us for the salvation of men and women worldwide. Hence the apostles in Acts were guided solely by their sense of the Spirit. 

In this larger sense, if we believe in the Holy Spirit as he is revealed in Acts, we cannot help but be missionaries -- all of us. We must embrace the world because Christ through his Spirit embraced the world. But this Spirit is also the Spirit of truth. He never leads the church of God apart from the word of God. The liberals in the world, not just in the Church of England, have sought to make their autonomy -- their opinions -- superior to what is taught in the Scripture. What they disagree with, they dismiss. "Well, that was back then. The times have changed." They say this without realizing that it is the very word of God, God's revelation to man, they are rejecting. It is a historic moment for the church -- any church -- when a denomination votes to put the Bible to one side and to be led by contemporary society. That is a historic decision and it requires a historic response like the one we saw this week in Kigali. The decision to step away from the Bible cannot remain unchallenged. Just ask those orthodox Methodists who founded the Global Methodist Church.

"He who is not with me is against me," said the Savior. In a day of indefinite gray, how refreshing to see black and white. Evidently our Lord has no place for twilight zones. Be hot. Be cold. But not lukewarm. Sadly, the climate of compromise marks the Laodicean church still today. It is indeed time for a Spirit-led showdown on Carmel between Baal and Yahweh.