But this isn't an unusal situation. This of course happened in the New Testament. John 8:3 follows the well-known account when the teachers of the Law dragged a woman caught in prostitution to Him. They quoted the Law to Him to see His reaction. But what caught my attention was the verse after this;
Here is what Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones had to say;
"Certain people by nature are afraid of the supernatural, of the unusual, of disorder, so concerned about discipline and decorum and control, that you become guilty of what the Scripture calls "quenching the Spirit"; and there is no question in my mind that there has been a great deal of this"
I have little hesitation in saying that many "anti-charismatics" seem to fall into this category. I don't know whether they mean to. But the fear of excess seems to drive this. And again I wonder why. What's so scary about going over the top? The world does it all the time through drugs, alcohol and so on. You pay good money to do that. Why is the church so scared of it?
"People are so afraid of what they call enthusiasm and some are so afraid of fanaticism that in order to avoid those they go right over to the other side without facing what is offered in the New Testament".
Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones sums the problem up exactly. How I long, wish, agonise and regret that my home church couldn't have simply sat back and said; "Well there is some excess here and there - but we don't have to go that way. We have the Word of God, yet we see that we can have the life without going crazy!". Sadly Dr Ern Baxter pleaded exactly this in his last visit to Dunstable in a sermon called; "The Spirit and the Word". Dr Lloyd-Jones goes on (and here is my favourite quote that I often cite);
"Look at the New Testament Christian, look at the New Testament church and you see it vibrant with spiritual life, and of course it is always life that tends to lead to excesses. There is no problem of discipline in a graveyard; there is no problem very much in a formal church. The problems arise when there is life".
Vibrant with spiritual life! So if we are to take Dr Lloyd-Jones counsel to heart then we could almost say that if you can't remember when there was a loving discipline of a church member for doing something crazy, then your church may be pretty formal. But if you cannot remember the last time something untoward happened in a church service - you must ask, does my church resemble something of a graveyard where you know exactly what will happen?
"Problems are created by life and by vigour and the problems of the early church were spiritual problems, problems arising because of the danger of going to excess in the spiritual realms".
Oh that we would have these problems again! Of course I don't mean we should hunger for excess and failure. But I DO mean that I think formality, deadness and legalism is a more deadly problem at present that excess. These quotes of Dr Ll0yd-Jones were from my favourite book; "Joy Unspeakable" and Terry Virgo wrote a commendation on this edition. He said;
"This is no age to advocate restraint; the church today does not need to be restrained but to be aroused, to be awakened and to be filled with the Spirit of glory".
Do it again Lord. Bring life back to Your church!