I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth… - John 16:12-13a
The series of messages I have been bringing over the past month are based on the first four chapters of the book of Acts and upon the idea of momentum. Momentum is a term in physics that represents the mass of an object and its velocity. It is measured as mass times velocity over time. The amount of momentum, in part, determines the impact an object will make on another object. Christ has called His Church to make a good impact on the world. In fact, He created the Church, His body, for this very purpose.
Interpreted spiritually, one unit of mass equals one person – you or I or any other believer in Jesus. To increase our spiritual momentum we must do at least one of two things: 1) increase our spiritual velocity, which means increasing our degree of integration with the Holy Spirit and 2) increasing our spiritual mass by uniting with other believers to accomplish Christ’s mission. Preferably, we should do both. When a group of believers increase their integration with the Holy Spirit, that is, increase the degree to which they yield to the power and guidance of the Spirit, they begin to experience “revival”. Revival occurs when Christians regain a degree of momentum sufficient to make a good and significant impact on the world.
Revival is a good thing. I became a Christian during a time of Christian revival. This revival was called “the Jesus movement”. As with all revivals, it began when some believers began praying for it. They were stirred by the turmoil of the 1960’s, particularly when they saw so many young people searching vainly for the truth in many ways – radical politics, drugs, sex, eastern religious philosophies, etc. God answered their prayers and soon long-haired, dirty, sometimes “stoned” young people began showing up in their services. Some Christians felt threatened by these newcomers and sent them away, telling them to come back after they’d had a bath, got some decent clothes, cut their hair and achieved sobriety. But others realized what God was doing and welcomed them as they were.
The wonderful thing was, they received Jesus and though they didn’t cut their hair and still wore “strange” clothing, they did become genuine Christians. In fact, they became very enthusiastic Christians and began sharing the good news of their new-found faith with everyone they met. Hippie coffee houses and “head shops” were becoming mission outreach stations, rock bands began turning out wonderful Christian music, Hippie periodicals (called “underground newspapers”) began spreading the good news. What was wonderful is that they didn’t change the sounds, the “psychedelic” artwork, their terms of speech, such as “far out” and “groovy”, etc. Because of that, they were able to grow quickly among people who were followers of, or had a fondness for, the counter-cultural movements of their day.
When such a revival happens, that is, when the church begins to regain her momentum in the world, there is also the potential for the momentum to go in the wrong direction. Even if this wrong direction is ever so slight in the beginning, it will eventually lead to the Church going off the rails, so to speak. You see, the Holy Spirit not only gives us power, He also wants to give us wisdom. Our human tendency is to appreciate the power of the Holy Spirit more than His wisdom. Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, places the emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s power. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) This was for good reason. He wrote at a time when the Church was still a small, struggling movement, under imminent external threat. He emphasized the boldness to face persecution the Holy Spirit gave the disciples in the early years after Jesus ascended to heaven. The Apostle John, on the other hand, wrote his Gospel at a time when the Church had weathered that initial stormy period and was enjoying a bit of peace, with her biggest threat coming from within the ranks, so to speak. This was the early “Gnostic” movement that threatened to unhinge the gospel of Jesus Christ from its Biblical and historical moorings and set Christians adrift on a sea of endless esoteric speculations. John therefore, was called by Christ to remind us that the Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26) who “will guide you into all truth.” (16:13)
The degree to which we pay attention to the teaching of the Holy Spirit will determine the direction of any momentum He gives us through His power. This, in turn, will determine the degree to which we make a good impact on the world. The failure to treasure truth and the tendency to exalt power over truth has led to many bad results. This is where the devil does his worst. He sees the Church reviving and regaining her momentum and goes straight to distracting her with subtle lies and half-truths. There are many of these we could mention, down through history.
One of the worst of these is the temptation to transfer from spiritual to political power. It is true that we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” and that therefore the prevalence of Christianity in any culture will tend to reform public customs and government policy in a good way. Christians are called to be good citizens and to stand for what is right. The problem comes when we start to compromise with evil in order to gain power, ostensibly for good ends. While we may thus gain political power for a season, the end result has always been and always will be, a decline in spiritual power. In the end, the world will reject us as hypocrites and charlatans. What is worst, they will reject Jesus because of us. This is happening now, sadly.
In this case, what is true on the larger world stage is also true locally and individually. We need to be discerning and not believe something because it comes from people who make a big profession of faith in Jesus. The Bible says to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)
May the Lord Jesus fill us with His Spirit so that we speak boldly in Jesus’ name, proclaiming the gospel without fear, spreading the good news far and wide.But may we also be attentive to the Spirit’s truth as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and as He speaks to the conscience.Then we will be sure not to combine light with darkness, truth with error.Then our witness for Jesus will be bright and clear and attract many to Him!