Saturday, October 22, 2005

What's Wrong With the Christian Church Today? Dr Lloyd-Jones has the answer.

I found this quote in his commentary on Ephesians 1:

"If I were asked to give a diagnosis as to what is wrong with the Christian church today, and as to what has been her chief trouble for a number of years, I would suggest that it is her failure to understand this statement".

What statement is that?

Ephesians 1:13: "In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise".

What does Dr Lloyd-Jones understand by the "Sealing of the Spirit"?

"I am suggesting therefore that the baptism with the Spirit is the same as the 'sealing with the Spirit'. But someone may well ask, why use two different terms then? If baptism is meant, why does it not say baptism? The answer it seems to me is that in the first and second chapters of Acts we are being taught the doctrine of the Spirit directly. The object there was to emphasise the giving of the Spirit, the fulfilment of God's promise; and it is called a baptism because the Spirit was poured out on men and women.

But here in Ephesians Paul is talking about inheritance. He desires us as Christians to realise that we are inheritors and his concern is that we should be absolutely sure of the fact that we are inheritors".

So is this baptism or sealing with the Spirit an experience?

"How slavish we can become in our use of terms! And how we rob ourselves of the blessings of God as a result! We are so afraid of excesses, we are so afraid of being labelled in a certain way, that we claim the baptism of the Spirit to be something unconcious, non-experimental, a happening that does not affect a man's feelings.

Such an arguement is utterly unscriptural. Not concious! The Apostles were as men who appeared to be filled with new wine! They were in a state of ecstasy! They were rejoicing and praising God; they were moved, their hearts were ravished; they experienced things which they had never felt or known before. They were transformed and were so different that you can scarcely recognise them as the same Peter, James and John and the rest as they once were.

Not experimental! Nothing can be more experimental. It is the height of Christian experience.

It is the highest, the greatest experience which a Christian can have in this world".

Fair enough ... but is this just Dr Ll0yd-Jones losing the plot? Was it just an unfortunate whim of his alone.

Apparantly not ...

"Here is the experience as described by John Flavel, the great Puritan; "Thus going on his way his thoughts began to swell and rise higher and higher like the waters in Ezekiel's vision till at last they became an overflowing flood. Such was the intention of his mind, such the ravishing tastes of heavenly joys, and such the full assurance of his interest therein, that he utterly lost a sight and sense of this world and all the concerns thereof. For some hours he knew no more where he was than if he had been in a deep sleep upon his bed. Arriving in great exhaustion at a certain spring, he sat down and washed - earnestly desiring that if it were God's pleasure that it might be his parting place from this world. Death had the most amiable face in his eye that ever he beheld execpt the face of Jesus Christ which made it so.

On reaching the Inn the influence still continued banishing sleep. Still the joy of the Lord overflowed him and he seemed to be an inhabitant of the other world. He many years after called that day one of the days of heaven, and he said he understood more of the light of heaven by it than all the books he ever read or discoveries he had entertained about it".

Anyone else?

"Thomas Goodwin says again; "There is only one thing beyond that (the sealing of the Spirit) namely heaven itself".

If Doctor Lloyd-Jones says that is the problem with the Christian church at the moment, then that surely ought to at least interest us.

1 comment:

Baxter's Boy said...

I had a couple of emails about this post and the relation between the baptism or sealing of the Spirit and gifts ...

I think the Third Wave emphasis has brought an unfortunate imbalance to the Church that Dr Lloyd-Jones was very concerned about. One quote I didn't put in - but is in the same exposition of Ephesians 1:13 says this:

"There MAY be gifts, there MAY NOT be gifts. There is generally some gift, but the vital element is the ASSURANCE. Immediate and direct - that we are the children of God. Therefore I DO NOT ask whether you have spoken in tongues or not. What I ask once more is - whether the love of God has been shed abroad in your heart? Are you rejoicing in Jesus Christ with a 'joy unspeakable and full of glory'? Have you been given a direct witness by the Spirit that you are a child of God, an heir of eternal bliss?".

I like that; "There may be gifts, there may not be gifts". Surely as the Doctor says, what the Christian church needs in this present hour is a people standing together who have been given a direct witness by the Spirit that we are children of God. Not necessarily a people who have the odd gift happening in their meeting. Yes I praise God for spiritual gifts. I welcome them and love them and want more of them.

But it is the baptism or sealing of the Spirit that we need!