January 30, 2014

How to Recognize a Spirit-Filled Church

by Eric Davis

SpiritFilledChurch advertisements can be interesting. I’ve seen things like, “Always an open door,” one that advertised a concealed weapons class, and “You have a friend request from Jesus: Accept? Ignore?” But one that confused me the first time I saw it was “Spirit-filled.” What does that mean? And are only some churches Spirit-filled? Or all of them? Or partially filled? What’s the difference between a Spirit-filled and non-Spirit-filled church?

Generally, the advertisement means that the Holy Spirit’s power and presence are observable in that local church. Praise God if that’s true. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with such advertising. But, assuming accurate advertising, what ought we expect from such a church? What will that look like?

Here are 11 evidences of the Spirit’s power and presence in a local church:

1. A focus on the biblical Person and work of Christ.

Previewing the New Covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit, Jesus indicated the christocentric focus he would have:

John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name…”

John 15:26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”

John 16:14 “He will glorify Me…”

Beyond this, Paul elaborated that central to discerning the Holy Spirit’s presence in someone is an affirming and embracing of the lordship of the biblical Jesus (1 Cor 12:3).

J.I. Packer says it this way:

“When floodlighting is well done, the floodlights are so placed that you do not see them; you are not in fact supposed to see where the light is coming from; what you are meant to see is just the building on which the floodlights are trained. The intended effect is to make it visible when otherwise it would not be seen for the darkness, and to maximize its dignity by throwing all its details into relief so that you see it properly. This perfectly illustrates the Spirit’s new covenant role. He is, so to speak, the hidden floodlight shining on the Savior” (Keeping in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God, 57).

floodlightThe Holy Spirit fills a people to floodlight Christ in all they do and say.

We can take this a step further. Since Christ is about building and blessing one institution (Matt 16:18), the Spirit will be likewise. We should expect to see him busy as Christ’s agent to facilitate that building and blessing. So, the Holy Spirit is at home in the local church because Jesus loves his church.

All that to say, the Spirit-filled church will floodlight, from many angles, the biblical Jesus.

2. A congregation converted to Christ.

Since the birth of the church by the Holy Spirit, the most powerful thing he does is convert dead sinners to faith in Christ. No one in the universe except him has the power to bring spiritual life.

Scripture pictures conversion in ways beyond anything like a decision, prayer, or act of the human will. Instead, it’s pictured, for example, as a birth (John 3:5) and a brittle bone pile coming to life (Ezek 37:1-14).

So when the Spirit fills a congregation, expect to see the miracle of spiritual life in that place. People will be genuinely saved. Don’t take for granted when you see it; even a church of 10 people converted to Christ. What you’re seeing is a colossal display of power; the greatest in the universe. It’s a glorious sight. And you can’t miss it anymore than you can miss the wind. A Spirit-filled church is filled with regenerate people.

3. A lot of godly people.

Even if you’re not a dendrologist, identifying a particular fruit tree is simple: look at its fruit. So it is with identifying the presence and power of the Spirit. His fruit (singular) in those he indwells is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).

fruitAlong those lines, humility evidences a Spirit-filled church. In Philippians 2:1-8, humility (on our part), has the idea of, out of response to the incarnation and atoning work of Christ, accurately seeing onself in light of God, resulting in a servant’s mindset towards others. Thus, true humility is not possible apart from conversion to Christ, which is not possible without the Holy Spirit.

Similarly, Spirit-filling will look like a mutual yielding to one another in a congregation out of reverence for Jesus (Eph 5:21).

To this, you could add holiness (being the Holy Spirit, those he indwells will bear his mark of personal holiness) and thankfulness (Eph 5:20, Col 3:17).

Overall, a Spirit-filled church will have the mark of godliness.

4. A love for God’s word.

Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16 are parallel passages where the ideas of being “filled with the Spirit” and the “word of Christ” dwelling “richly” within are synonymous. So, a Spirit-filled church will look like a church where Scripture richly abides and is at home.

Practically that will look like many things: a hunger for the word, a love for hearing and reading the word, a desire to discuss the word, a reverence for the word, a church governed by the word, and a people being transformed by the word. It will look like a priority to be equipped by the word over being entertained by the world.

the good soilThough some biblical truth will be piercing and hard to swallow, Spirit-filled people will not be saying, in response, “Umm, this is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” Though they may wrestle, that Spirit-filled congregation, will be moved and humbled by the Spirit to say, “Where else shall we go? These are the words of eternal life.” The Holy Spirit will tame the otherwise boisterous flesh to embrace what he has said in Scripture.

5. A love for biblical preaching.

One thing that is obvious about that newly, Holy Spirit-hatched people in Acts is that they loved biblical preaching. In the early church, it appears that there was biblical preaching going on about every day (Acts 2:42-47). Further, when the Spirit decided what to preserve for his people in Acts, a large chunk of it was biblical preaching (Acts 2:14-36, 3:12-26, 7:2-53, 10:34-43, 13:16-41, 17:22-31, 20:18-35). Combine that with the Eph 5:18/Col 3:16 idea, and we can say that the Spirit-filled church will be a place where the pulpit is central. You can be sure that the Spirit is powerfully at work where the people crave the bible unpacked and doctrines explained; where there is a love for the explanation, illustration, and application of Scripture.

we love preachingA Spirit-filled church loves large doses of biblical preaching.

6. A lot of people serving.

In Paul’s pneumatological tome to the Corinthians, he makes a telling statement regarding true spiritual gifts: “each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7) and “edification of the church” (1 Cor 14:12, cf. v. 26). So, one certain expression of the Spirit will be people actively working to build up the church.

Also, many instances in Acts where God’s people were “filled with the Spirit” are revealing. In most of those cases (cf. Acts 2:4, 4:8, 4:31, 13:9), Spirit-gifts were exercised powerfully to both put Christ in lights and edify people.

So, the power and presence of the Spirit in a local church will look like an army of servants doing the work of the ministry, unprodded by people, but in light of Christ’s love.

The Spirit-filled church is the church full of people serving in many ways for the common good.

7. A humble focus on conviction and repentance of sin.

This is one of those unmistakable evidences of the Spirit’s power. You will never hear your flesh say to you, “I delight to cause you to see, hate, and turn from your indwelling sin so that you become more like Jesus.” The flesh cherishes sin like a good mom cherishes her newborn. It loathes the idea of anything putting it to death. And that is precisely what Jesus sends the Spirit to do. Whatever we say about the Holy Spirit, this is certain: he puts sin to death in everyone he indwells (Rom 8:13).

Japan Nara

Sin is that thing that deceives, wrecks, kills, and damns humans. Yet nothing and no one has the power to execute it but the Holy Spirit. So, since Christ cares deeply for the well-being of his people, he sends in the big-guns to slay our indwelling sin. And when the Spirit lands, conviction and repentance will signify that the war is on and God is winning.

What the Spirit will do is enable knowledge of personal sin, hatred of it, sorrow over it because of its offense against God, confession of it, and turning from it (Ezek 36:31, John 16:8). But he doesn’t stop there. In those healthy moments of conviction, he floodlights Christ so that the repentant see, embrace, and rejoice in him and his overwhelmingly adequate righteousness for us.

So then, the Spirit-filled church will look like a people humbly confessing their sin without fearing one another, sorrowfully discussing their sin without fleeing one another, intentionally turning from their sin without isolating one another, and always ending up at the cross.

The Spirit-filled church has a humble focus on the conviction and repentance of sin.

8. An atmosphere where it’s the norm to lovingly confront sin.

This is to be expected since the Spirit will employ those means of putting sin to death which he has spoken in his word. One of those means is other Spirit-indwelt people coming alongside of us.

helpFollowing his explanation of the Spirit in Galatians 5, Paul exhorts believers to gently address each others’ sin for the purpose of restoration on the basis that they are Spirit-indwelt (Gal 6:1-3)

In a Spirit-filled church, then, this will look like an atmosphere where sin is safe but not safe. It’s safe, in the sense that there is a loving, family-like trust among one another where we can be confronted if necessary, but know that we will not be condemned. However, sin is unsafe because it will necessarily be confronted and eradicated by the Spirit.

A Spirit-filled church is one in which it’s the norm to lovingly confront sin.

9. A place where the flesh cannot last long.

Overall, the Spirit-filled church will be a place where the flesh can run, but it can’t hide. Christ cares too much for his church to have it any other way. This means that doctrine which is fleshly will be exposed and eradicated. Methods of doing ministry which are fleshly will eventually be discovered and destroyed. People who are fleshly will only be able to tolerate a Spirit-filled church for so long. If they are not converted by the power of the Spirit, they will typically leave. That’s because the flesh hates nothing more than the Spirit. It won’t bow to it. And even if it wanted to, it could never do so (Rom 8:7-8, Gal 5:17). Consequently, the flesh will be appropriately cornered in a Spirit-filled church. One of two things will result: repentance by the power of the Holy Spirit, or fleeing to a place more conducive to sheltering the flesh.

10. An orderliness and intelligibility when gathered.

orderlyMuch of the spiritual spanking Paul administers in the first letter to the Corinthians, as far as chapters 12-14 go, boils down to his desire that they focus on love, edification, and orderliness. Among other things, when they gather, it’s to be done in an orderly manner, where unintelligibility is absent and comprehension is present. That is what would reflect a presence and power of the Spirit. And it’s to be done in “all the churches” (v. 33). Though the Corinthians might disagree, so far from hindering the power of the Spirit, an orderliness when gathered invites and evidences his power.

A Spirit-filled gathering will be orderly and intelligible.

11. A desire to exist in unity with each other.

The Spirit-filled congregation will be one who prioritizes unity in the name of Christ (Eph 4:3-4). A refreshing instinct to do so will be present. Consequently that which produces true biblical unity will be visible. For example: humility, believing the best about one another, looking for common ground, serving each other, a desire for relationships, grieving over and attempting to biblically solve division in the congregation, and an overall sharing of life among people with many surface differences.

Not only that, but there will be a desire to unite with Spirit-filled people from the past. The Spirit is eternal; the same God doing the same things generally as he carries out our Lord’s building plans for his church. As such, the Spirit-filled congregation has an instinct to actively unite with others in church history. They’re not consumed with originality, but faithfulness to what the Spirit has been doing; being another link in a long line of pneumatological fidelity.

See

A Spirit-filled congregation carries a refreshing desire for unity in Christ.

We could add many things to this list: an assurance that we are God’s children by the finished work of Christ (Rom 8:15-17), a perseverance in suffering (Rom 5:2-5), a cheerful diligence to obey God’s commands (Ezek 36:27, Rom 8:4), and a delight to sing biblically-sound songs with one another (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16). All that to say, when the Holy Spirit is present in a local church, it’s going to be gloriously obvious. When he blows through a congregation, it will be unmistakable: he will gather a converted people whose lives are being enriched in Scripture such that they love, serve, and repent with the result that Christ is put in lights.

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008.
  • Dan Phillips

    Really good! Thank you.

    I might add a twelfth: “A Spirit-filled church will probably not tout itself as a Spirit-filled church.” (See TWTG 272f., the passage MacArthur quotes in Strange Fire.)

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Dan. That 12th evidence is a good one.

  • 4Commencefiring4

    The sentiments expressed here are good sounding, but I would submit they may be a tad vague. What does a congregation do–if anything–about sin in the lives of its members? Who decides it’s serious enough to act? And what latitude does it allow in one’s own decisions about how to live? The inevitable conflict between one person’s habits and preferences and those of the leaders can be tough to sort out.

    Some people are movie buffs, some would never darken the door of a theater. Some watch a lot of TV, some wouldn’t own one. One member insists his teenage daughter wear slacks only, another has no rule regarding his kids’ dress. One person likes a cigar and a brandy when he comes home, while another believes both are sin. Another is outraged that women aren’t covering their heads in church, as Paul insisted. Another earns his living as a professional poker player, saying it’s exactly like being a stock broker…and we don’t condemn them, do we?

    What does a “spirit-filled” church do about these deltas? Freedom in Christ, or one set of rules for all? Are both possible? Not easy to evaluate to me.

    • Eric Davis

      4Commencing-
      I think you bring up an important point regarding how to discern when confrontation is necessary. It’s not always easy. But your question somewhat confirms the point about Spirit-filling.

      In Gal 6, Paul gives some advice on how to know when a sin is “serious enough to act,” as you mention. First, we are to act when we are “spiritual” (Gal 6:1). Fundamentally, we could say that means when the Spirit actually indwells us. Second, we know we are to act when a brother is “caught” in a sin. This means at least 2 things. First, they are trapped, or entangled, in a sin such that it’s clear they’re not overcoming the fleshly inertia to repent. They need the care of Spirit-filled people to come alongside. Second, it means that they are actually caught in a legitimate sin. Most of those areas you mention are not inherently sin, biblically defined. There may be a lack of wisdom in them. And there may be a heart-sin committed. But we cannot say that, inherently, watching a lot of TV, smoking a cigar, drinking brandy, not wearing a head covering, playing poker, etc, are sins. If we do, we are going beyond Scripture. To confront those as sin would be to evidence a lack of walking by the Spirit in that moment b/c we would be doing something that the Spirit never told us to do in Scripture.

      I think that in the many situations you brought up, when we are truly Spirit-filled, as defined above (and walking w/ other believers who are also), we will typically be well-positioned to rightly restore someone caught in an actual sin in way that manifests the fruit of the Spirit. And if we don’t, we can evidence the Spirit’s power by asking forgiveness.

  • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

    This was fantastic. “A Spirit-filled church loves large doses of biblical preaching.” Amen. And likewise, it should NOT include loud rock music, tribal drums, rolling on the floor and barking.

    • Benjamin Coussens

      Johnny can you please clarify your definition of “Rock Music” and “Tribal Drums”? The church that pastor Eric shepherds has utilized both electric guitar and a djembe to lead the congregation in worship at the weekly gathering. Do you believe that this somehow prevents this church from being a “spirit filled” church? After being a part of these services, I would contend that these instruments were used to glorify God and edify his people.

      • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

        I’ve been to churches like that before, and generally, when the tribal music ends and the euphoria settles and the pastor steps forward, he doesn’t generally open his Bible to bless the Lord with a rich, expository message following a week of serious, scholarly exegetical analysis, but instead you get stories, jokes and pop rocks and marshmallows. Perhaps it’s different at Pastor Eric’s church, but I’ve sadly seen far too much of the later (Pastor steps up. “Yeah, wasn’t that music great?!” Audience goes nuts.)

        Plus it seems like you throw in guitars and the songs tend to become too frequently mindlessly repetative 7-11′s, built more around euphoria than serious, meaningful singing of worship. I’ve spoken with my well-meaning yet misguided pentacostal friends and asked them if they really know the difference between “spirit-filled” and “euphoria-filled”, especially in terms of upbeat rock music. For instance, tune into some of the YouTube films of someone like Michael Jackson in concert in, say, Bucharest, and you’ll see people in the audience screaming, crying, waiving their hands (and I’ll wager, talking in tongues and barking as well.) Seems like the tribal church isn’t much different: people caught up in euphoria and not seriously giving any serious thoughts to what they are singing.

        Alas, people are so stuck in their thinking and their musical preferences that it’s hard to get past that wall, but I’d encourage you to read a small book called “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns” that sums it up very well.

        • 4Commencefiring4

          This is a debate and a raw point that my wife and I have been shaking our heads over for decades. Our church is a “serious” Bible church, and the teaching is A+. But we feel like, any day now, they’ll start selling tickets at the door for the show that kicks off the service. Nearly every “tune” (forget hymn or composition) has to end with a Big Final Chord, and everyone goes nuts with applause.

          I grew up in a church that had lukewarm teaching, but the music was at least reverent and classical. The hymnals now are only there to hold up the discarded programs in the pews. Pul-eeze.

          • Eric Davis

            4Commence-
            I understand that you have a certain preference when it comes to music. I do as well. And if I understand you correctly, I would encourage you and your wife to take a different approach than “shaking your heads for decades” and suspecting that “they’ll start selling tickets at the door.” I would encourage you to consider an approach that rejoices in the non-essential differences exhibited in your local church and, when it comes up in discussion w/ you and others who share your position, to say something like, “We may prefer something different, but it is not inherent sin to play louder/bigger music w/o hymnals or classical tunes. Love does not seek it’s own, like our Savior when he died on the cross for our sin. Let’s be sure to cultivate unity in our local church.” And from the sound of it, if your church is Bible teaching, then they are majoring on the majors. For that we can be grateful.

        • Benjamin Coussens

          Johnny,

          Your heart is definitely in the right place but I would ask you to consider if you might be unfairly critiquing the instruments instead of critiquing the content. I may be hearing you incorrectly and if do, please do correct me brother. But it sounds like you are using an “if/then” statement. “If there are electric guitars and THEN it will be performance based

          • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

            Thanks for the thoughts, and I apologize if I sounded too condemning of the guitar-heavy churches. I love a good rock guitar, for what it’s worth – just on Spotify, not in church… :) Here’s what I hate to admit: every time I go to a church with electric guitars and the band, the teaching/hermeneutics are watery pop. I can’t think of an exception, and we’ve done a lot of church hunting in the past before settling at an OPC church (where rock guitars are simply of the devil and don’t exist… lol.) It’s also hard to sing along when your voice tends to get drown out in amplified rock music, so much so that you’re better off just being quiet and going along with the musical ride, and I know that’s just not right.

            Yes, men and women can glorify God with modern instruments, but I wonder sometimes if just simply playing a melody with a piano, and singing along as a congregation, is closer to the mark in engaging the congregation in meaningful, dynamic worship songs.

        • Eric Davis

          Johnny-
          Thanks for the comment. While I personally enjoy various forms of music, including classical, I would have to say that God’s people need to stop short of saying that tribal drums and loud rock music is wrong, if I’m understanding you correctly.

          From what I can see, there does not seem to be any Scripture indicating that to be so. In fact, Ps 150:3-5 instructs God’s people to: “Praise Him w/ trumpet sound … w/ harp and lyre … w/ timbrel and dancing … w/ stringed instruments and pipe … w/ loud cymbals … w/ loud resounding cymbals.” So there appears to be, among others, 2 things going on here: 1) Instruction to praise God w/ all kinds of instruments. 2) Instruction to praise God w/ loud volume. More could be said, but I would say that we are going beyond Scripture if we were to forbid a certain kind of drum or rock music.

          Now, you’re not going beyond Scripture to be concerned about rolling around on the ground and barking. Paul addresses that idea in 1 Cor 14, insisting on orderliness and intelligibility in the gathering.

          • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

            Thanks for the thoughts. It’s not as much that loud rock/tribal instruments are wrong, in that they strike me as difficult/not condusive to being able to sing congregationally. It’s easier just to listen and enjoy the “concert” when your own voice is drown in the amplification from the stage. Plus can you really, truly get people to sing the Trinity hymnal with rock guitars? I just don’t see how, but maybe it can be pulled off.

        • jeremiah

          Here’s just a thought the devil if you study on him and find out what his purpose was in heaven before he was kicked out he was in charge of worship singing is worship so you can say he was in charge music so it would probably be safe to say he would know the ins an outs of music..and music brings out feelings in us sad songs make a sad happy an so forth that’s why it was created the music that we sing to God it is to bring our feelings out towards God… the Bible clearly states anything that exalts it self or gets exalted above him is headed down the exact thing the devil is going down for he said he will be exalted higher than the most high.yes oneself can act like crazy to put on a show or just going thru the motions..music creates an atmosphere bible says make a joyful noise shout with a voice of triumph..music is worship which that would make levels of worship fast slow real fast..when u are at a concert the theme of the song and the singers are being worshipped country songs would be worshipping the country life and the singer rap would be the gangster life and rapper so on and so forth that’s why people act all crazy at concerts they are in love with the band and the style rockers rap country and so on and so forth Bible says we are to live as a Christian lifestyle those songs promote living like a gangster lifestyle country folk lifestyle living how we want to live our life ,our way not his and love songs would promote our spouse above God which is supposed to be first before our spouse most people in general will not worship the devil so he decieves us and one of his ways would be in music since he would know the ins and outs and that its worship and it the style brings certain levels of worship slow would be all lovie fast would be excited about him on who he is ann what he has done for us which no one has done anything higher than him dying for us to me that deserves the highest praise and highest form of worship music promotes what we hold high in who and what we desire well hope maybe helped that’s what its all about helping eachother

  • Brad

    Great article!

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  • Indrajee ‘Inder’ Pawar

    Super article Eric. Agree with you wholeheartedly. But what a pity that your non-charismatic lens prevents you from going the whole distance and looking at what the Corinthians did have even though they abused it. Surely Paul is calling them to a proper use of the gifts which are seen in a Spirit filled church so that when an unbeliever comes in and has the secrets of his hearts revealed he can exclaim God is amongst us. What a pity that this lens filters any Spirit inspired gift or working that worked in Jesus so that His word that we’d do what He did could be true. How sad that Joel’s prophecy ceased at Pentecost. What a church that would be that had all that we see in the book of Acts living with the wonderful community life that you so wonderfully and rightly write about. How I wish we could have the whole enchilada not just half of it.

    • Matt Mumma

      I hear what you are saying, but would have to disagree. It is not that Eric (or the other C-gate writers) have a non-charismatic lens, but rather they have a biblical lens from which they can understand these sometimes difficult issues. You claim that this lens prevents him to see any “Spirit inspired gifting or working.” However, in point #6, this was clearly stated. A church that is full of the Spirit will use their Spirit-given gifts to the benefit of the body. This is Paul’s argument to that church who were wrongly using some of their gifts.

      Also, I understand your desire for churches to be like what we see in Acts. However, lets be careful as we look there. Not everything that the Acts church’s did is prescriptive for today, but was rather describing the beginnings of the young church. But we do see a lot of love for each other, a commitment to community and one-anothering, as well as the use of the gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the church. All these we should strive to see in our churches to today.

      • jeremiah

        Can u teach me on the things in the book of acts where we don’t practice today that’s a lot a scripture.. Im always willing to learn new things like the bible says search the scriptures and rightly devide them so I’m in search and trying to rightly devide. I don’t kno everything I only kno a lil about a lil but always willing to learn iron sharpenth iron

        • Eric Davis

          Jeremiah-

          Thanks for stopping by the blog. I’m thankful for your apparent desire to grow in the knowledge of the word. If you’re not already aware, here is a great resource to do that: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermonsYou will find sermons

          They will give helpful clarity to many of the questions you asked in these comments. I hope it helps.

          • jeremiah

            Thank u jus wanting to see all things well as much as I can we all need disscusion I want to make heaven I see what is said but I also see other scrip so like the bible says rightly deviding I don’t want to be wrong I discuss the things I see to put the scripture together its not about me makibg u bellieve its for me only God gives us complete understanding so I try an get info everywhere I can being too hot is not what I want thanx for taking time to show me

    • Eric Davis

      Indrajee-

      Thank you for stopping by. And I would echo Matt’s comments.

      I believe the lens I am looking through on this issue is Scripture. And, in part, I would agree that there were likely manifestations of legitimate sign-gifts (healing, languages, miracles) happening among the Corinthians. However, as the church’s foundation was laid and she matured, certain implements like those apostolic, sign-gifts (which were very important and useful for their 1st-century purpose) ceased. Scripture is fairly clear on that.

      Here is a link to several articles in case you might be interested in reading more on that (if you have not before): http://thecripplegate.com/series-guide/

      Scroll down to Nate Busenitz’s series on cessationism.

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  • Flyingpreacher

    Thank you for the article. Great thoughts! A church that is spirit-filled sees God work through her as she carries out the Great Commission and produces fruit that abounds to His glory!

  • Jeff Schlottmann

    Hi, I’m new here, and a lot of you seem to go deeper than I do at the moment. So please be patient with this question. My pastor just last week preached on discipline in the church from Matthew 18:15-20. However, he didn’t really go into how it looks when done in front of the church. So it’s really been bugging me all week. I mean if an unrepentant brother gets to the point where it needs to be taken to the church, how should this be done? I can’t imagine you would tell him/her ahead of time that you’re going to do this. And a church leader probably wouldn’t call him up to the front and surprise him with what you’re up to.

    So as I asked above, how should the practice of discipline in front of the church go on? Also, I am not a pastor or anything like that. I’m just curious.

  • http://suzlt.blogspot.com/ Suzanne T

    Really enjoyed reading this..each point reminds me of just how blessed we are with our own “Spirit filled” church! warts and all ;-)

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  • jeremiah

    I have a question on the comment the spirit filled church almost everyone will be doing the work of God if its spirit filled, didn’t Jesus say that the harvest is huge but the workers are few pray ye that the lord of the harvest will send workers

  • jeremiah

    Question on knowing that the people being born of the spirit..in jhn chpt 3 here Jesus and a ruler nicodemus are talkin about being born again water and spirit water of course is self explanatory baptism we all kno ..but correct me if I’m wrong in jhn 3:8 Jesus is using wind as an analogy on who is born of the spirit saying the wind comes and goeswhere it listeth(wants) and thou herest the sound thereof then Jesus says so is everyone that is born of the Spirit does it mean it is like the wind comes and goes when it wants and you here a sound I did look up the word sound in Greek it says language so does that mean we’re going to hear language like in the book of acts chapter 2 as a rushing mighty wind and begin to speak in tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance both verse speaks using wind and hereing somethin .. I have been searching to learn theres also isah 28:11 please help me two understand

  • dwayneriner

    The cessation of gifts did not occur with the end if the first century. That argument has been purported by many and they almost always point back to 1 Cor. 13:8. However, it was clear that Paul was referring to the coming eternal age. Think about his verbiage. He refers to the “perfect,” hardly a description of the last millennia of Christendom. Take it contextually from the Greek work “to telion” he is clearly not thinking the closing of the canon. There was no canon to speak of when he wrote this and most of them believed Christ would return during their lifetime. Why then would Paul be referring only to the apostolic age? The signs and manifestations were present thoughtout the church even when there was not an apostle present. Thus, the gifts were not limited to the apostles as their proof. Just because we speak in tongues doesn’t mean we don’t also pursue scholarly research of God’s Word. I think it’s unfair to categorize these churches as all fluff. We are bringing the word to the world. We have over 1300 confirmed salvations in our church this past year alone. Consider the discussion. We can disagree and hold fellowship nonetheless. Blessings to you and your ministry!

    • James Coates

      Hi Dwayne,

      There are a couple of things that I think you need to consider about your understanding of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13:

      1. Would Paul be saying anything significant if his main point concerning the revelatory gifts was that they will cease in the eternal state? Do you think the early church would have been confused about that? And, would that have really addressed the problem being experienced in Corinth?

      2. If Paul’s illustration in v. 11 (that concerns laying aside “childish things”) pertains to the eternal state, wouldn’t that also make Scripture childish?

      3. What is Paul’s point in regard to “faith, hope, and love, abide these three” (v. 13)? It would seem that Paul is saying that faith, hope, and love are more abiding than the gifts referred to in v. 8. But, will faith and hope abide into eternity? Scripture teaches that faith will become sight and that hope pertains to the conviction of things unseen, neither of which will endure beyond this life. So, if faith and hope have a more enduring quality than do the gifts of v. 8, wouldn’t those gifts have to cease some time prior to the cessation of faith and hope?

      4. One question remains: why is love the greatest? Because not only does it out last the gifts of v. 8, it also out lasts faith and hope. Love abides eternally.

      • dwayneriner

        Thanks for keeping up the conversation and for your kindness in your reply. I realized I made a mistake in my earlier post. The Greek word “to telion” is actually located in verse 10. I think that verse is key because Paul was trying to correct a church who had fallen in love with manifestations and had forgot te the basics of the faith – love. He was showing them that the things they hold in such high esteem will fade away in heaven but the thing they miss, love, will endure through eternity. Of course it makes sense that faith and hope will cease because they are not needed when we see completely. Think of Paul’s argument. We see dimly now but will see clearly when the perfect comes. That can’t refer to the end of the first century because we still see dimly. These gifts still give power today and give signs of God’s working. It’s embraced by the majority of non-Catholic Christians worldwide.

    • jeremiah

      Can any one explain 1st cor 14:2,3, 4, 5, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22
      Here he is talking about prophesying and tongues interpeting.its a way we talk to God and a way to here from God prophesying an interpeting this not talking about being born in the spirit as jhn is talking about in jhn3:1-8 eight explains being born of the spirit will be like the wind(acts2:2rushing mightywind as they are being filled with the spirit) we don’t control the wind ir comes and goes when it wants to bur we here the sound of the wind which Jesus says himself that its the same as
      Recieveing the spirit comes an goes when it wants (cuz its God in us all an thru us all who tells God what to do )and we will here a sound by his words so is EVERYONE BORN OF SPIRIT..so this is two types of tongues one is being born the other is interpreting …Isaiah 1128 those with 1st Corinthians 14 and 21

      • Eric Davis

        Jeremiah-
        The articles which I and Mike posted above will answer many of the questions you are asking. Thanks!

      • http://suzlt.blogspot.com/ Suzanne T

        Hi Jeremiah! I really admire your zeal for learning “as the Berean’s” – praise God for giving us such desires! Besides the links to the articles Mike and Eric left for you I wanted to point to the great wealth of messages (and many other resources) available for free at Grace To You! Specifically, the messages that Pastor MacArthur has preached according to each book of the NT as well as many from the old: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/scripture
        May God bless your every endeavor to understand His word ~

  • Lyndon Unger

    Thanks for the article Eric. Good stuff!

  • Harry

    This article was very good Eric. I have a question which relates to your topic. I am trying to understand how John MacArthur explanation of Acts 14:8-18.

    MacArthur says Holy Spirit power is needed by all Christians. But not miracle power. [Miracle power / sign & wonders were for apostolic gospel authentication now replaced by the Bible: Reformed View]

    But John says we still need power. Why? To serve with God’s strength (1 Peter 4:11) Yet it is God’s power that regenerates and saves. My role is not the power role. I maybe an energized agent…as the Apostle Paul was….but Holy Spirit power is now limited to salvation and sanctification.

    My question: Cults come with a mindset and misinterpret scripture in a variety of ways. Prosperity preachers do the same. Has John imposed a Reformed mindset on this passage? Because the scripture itself Acts 14 does not allow John’s interpretation.

    This is John’s quote:
    “Although today’s believers do not possess miraculous healing power as Paul did, the principle is instructive—God’s power is absolutely necessary if His work is to be accomplished (Eph. 6:10; 1 Pet. 4:11). The power “to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20) comes to all believers at salvation. The power of the Holy Spirit is released in believers’ lives as they walk moment by moment in obedience to the truth. That enables them to be used as agents through whom no physical healing occurs, but rather the transformation of the soul in salvation and sanctification.”

    MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (p. 326). Chicago: Moody Press.

    Value your thoughts.

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