Friday, February 03, 2006

The "Ultimate Imperative" - Be Filled With the Spirit.

I was quite amazed at the response to my thoughts on setting a particular time on getting up to meet with God. I think a comment by a wise guy was key:

"The amount of interest a post on legalism attracts tells us just how much of a challenge this represents to us.At the risk of over-simplifying things the only way I know to handle legalism (or license for that matter) is to live by the Spirit".

I have been reading "God's Lavish Grace" by Terry Virgo in the light of the awesome weekend that I have had, and Terry would agree most definately with the comment given. Indeed quoted Gordon Fee's comment on "Be Filled with the Spirit" to great effect - "The Ultimate Imperative". The word 'Imperative' suggests urgency! It suggests great need! And the comment made by Mark would tally with this. The ONLY way we can effectively combat legalism is to live by the Spirit - and I would argue be (continually) filled with the Spirit. So just a few thoughts on the Filling of the Spirit.

Terry wrote: "New Testament believers were essentially people of the Holy Spirit and were characterised by the Spirit's Presence and power. When Paul encountered the small group at Ephesus his opening question was not, as ours might have been, "Are you Christians?" or "Have you been saved?" - he asked, "Did you recieve the Holy Spirit when you believed?".

He used a powerful and telling quote from Thomas Schriener's "Paul, Apostle of God's Glory in Christ" that commented: "Life in the Spirit cannot be reduced to autopilot or cruise control and although the believers in Galatia received the Spirit by faith, Paul is concerned that they may depart from their first steps. Apparantly believers need admonitions to live by the Spirit".

I have just been listening again to one of my favourite Christmas presents - Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones on "Quenching the Spirit". He is characteristically awesome on the "imperative" of being filled with the Spirit:

"I am concerned about this not only in terms of our individual experiences but also because of the whole state of the Church. Why is the Church so ineffective? My answer is that she lacks this power (of the Spirit)".

"What about the life and the vigour? What about the warmth and the radiance? What about the joy and the praise and the thanksgiving? If they are not present, in some way or other, we are quenching the Spirit. The responsibility of Christians is very great. We have to start with the Church, not with the world outside. The chief trouble is in the Church. The masses are outside largely because we who are inside are not attracting them.

"We are failing to give the impression that we have the most glorious of all possessions. We give an impression of lethargy, of slowness and of dulness, there seems to be more life outside. The church should be the most exciting and thrilling place in the world and if she is not, we are somehow or other, "quenching the Spirit".

So ...

Legalism ... Grace ... Being Filled with the Spirit ... Reaching the Nations. Do these all tie together? Yes. To me there is a beautiful yet vital flow here. If the church is tied up with legalism then we are quenching the Spirit and therefore useless in fulfilling our Great Comission. On the other hand if we do see the "Ultimate Imperative" and treat being filled with the Spirit as a matter of URGENCY, then the Spirit will flow - legalism will be mortified (and we will not need 'clubs' to get up at a particular time in the morning - we will awake desperate to meet with God!) and we will go out to the nations full of the Spirit to reach the lost.


nwood said...

I love that symbol you used to illustrate your writing!! Where did it come from?

Baxter's Boy said...

It used to be the symbol of my home church in Dunstable. It is great isn't it - Word and Spirit combined!