Building up believers and the New Testament church

God's Wisdom Revealed

Theories or Reality?

Is the Spirit in control and giving life to the church?

One of the great dangers in many fundamental groups of our day is that men give Christ His place only in theory and with words. They ask the Holy Spirit to direct their services, but then keep everything decently and in man's order. The words they use are sound, but they lack the breath of the Holy Spirit who gives life. It is of no value to use the right terms if there is no reality. The difference is between life and death, the Spirit and man. God has called men to build, but not what they want, and only by His Spirit. Men are either building by the Spirit or ministering death. There is only one pattern, and it is God's. What man is building on his own can never fit into God's plan. We can't do what we want to, and then ask God to bless our efforts. All ministry and its fruit are going to be tried by fire (1 Corinthians 3:7-13).

We need not fear to be directed by the Holy Spirit, but we should be concerned when the church is controlled by man. In most groups today, nothing is known about functioning under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We could even say they have a fear of giving Him His rightful place--often they would call this going too far, trying to be "super-spiritual." But seemingly these groups have no fear of letting one man or a group of men direct their gathering.

We must rightly understand what it means to be directed by the Spirit. It does not mean that men will not be used to minister to the church. There is a fine line which only the Spirit can show us. Man is either controlled and directed by the Spirit, or controlled by a man or group of men. To the spiritual man this is not hard to discern. A working may look "spiritual," but not be building lives together. Nothing can be substituted for the Spirit and produce spiritual results.

We can have a group of good ministers in a gathering--but can they function under the Holy Spirit's direction? The functioning reveals who is in control. If man is in control we will end up with man's "church," but if Christ is the head and the Holy Spirit is in control we will see what God is building by His Spirit. We hear many complaints in our day about the lack of spirituality in the church, but are we willing to give the Holy Spirit the place of authority?

We need godly men who are hearing from God, but unless these men bring God's people into a true relationship with Christ, their ministry does not accomplish what Christ has given it for. I believe the responsibility is on the brother with a ministry to see that he does not lead men after his teachings or person. This can be assured only when each person is being taught by the Spirit, has a revelation from the Spirit for himself, and is functioning under the anointing of the Spirit.

Ministers need to be mindful of their purpose and goal, in order to labor together and function in faith. They can build only according to the grace given to them, the vision they have from God, and the ability the Spirit gives. Each minister is a builder, and his ministry should be valued in view of the fruits which are evidenced over a period of time.

The ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11--apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers--have been given so that the local expressions will come to "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). Each ministry has been given to function that all might profit. Ministers are not to "lord it over" the church. They are given to function in their ministry for the growth of the church. In their functioning, they prove their call, which is serving God's people so they might be one in the faith.