Empowered For Mission

The Holy Spirit is a touchy topic for many Christians today. When we begin to talk about the Holy Spirit and His gifts, believers seem to fall into one of two opposing camps. The first camp is the ultra-charismatic camp. Here, there is a large emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit at the expense of Biblical Doctrine. Truth about the Spirit can be based upon experiences rather than what God teaches in His authoritative Word.

The second is the ultra-conservative camp. Here, there is a love for Biblical Doctrine and theology, but often times there is also a fear of the supernatural. So what is the answer? Is it charismatic, spirit-filled passion or is it deep, rich theology?

The answer is “yes.”

It’s both. In fact, the Bible teaches us that the two are inseparable. When a believer is feasting on the word of God and studying God’s nature (and every believer should be doing this) he is drawn closer to God and given a passion to see great, amazing, miraculous things done for His kingdom.

I find it very saddening that churches who emphasize Biblical doctrine are known for boring worship. Our passion for something is rooted in our knowledge of who or what that particular thing is.

To adapt an illustration used by Matt Chandler; If I explain to a stranger how beautiful my wife is by telling him about her thick flowing black hair and lovely dark brown eyes, he may be impressed. He may think, “This guy really loves his wife.” The problem is that my wife’s hair is brown and her eyes are blue. It doesn’t matter how passionately I’ve expressed these characteristics of my wife because they’re inaccurate!

I think it is easy for us at NewBranch to nod our head in agreement at this. We emphasize Biblical Doctrine, Expository Preaching, and feasting upon deep truths of God. But the reason we do this is because knowledge of God leads to a passion for God, which leads to a life dedicated to the advancement of His gospel for His glory.

Is this happening in our lives? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately. I read a lot of theology. I study God’s word in deep ways. Why haven’t I shared the gospel with my neighbors?

In the Book of Acts, the advancement of the Gospel is traced back to the amazing and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells His disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” These disciples were already believers. The Spirit was breathed out upon them in John 20:22. But in Acts 2 the Spirit falls upon the believers in a different way and ignites the mission of God.

One of the major reasons the American Church doesn’t look like the New Testament church is because of it’s failure to acknowledge the reviving power of the Holy Spirit. Believers, beg for the Holy Spirit to fall on you. Beg for the Holy Spirit to baptize our church. Beg for revival- In the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God and advancement of His Kingdom.

Some Great Resources on the Holy Spirit’s role in revival and mission:
Empowered For Mission by Ken Rucker (Sermon)
Joy Unspeakable: Power and Renewal in the Holy Spirit (Book)
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan (Book)

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4 thoughts on “Empowered For Mission

  1. Powerful post brother and so very true. I have been deeply involved in both traditions you wrote about and have seen the abuses on both sides. In my experience, what keeps most people from submitting to the Holy Spirit in deeper ways is fear. It is a fear of “losing control” or it is a fear of “being wrong” or of “looking foolish.”

    I often think of David who danced before the Lord in a way that his wife considered to be undignified and he said; “I will become even more undignified than this!”

    Pride (idolizing self) gets in the way of so many things and this is no exception. I tend to think that only when we are desperate for God above all things will we know what the Holy Spirit can and will do in our midst.

  2. Good points brother. I’d like to add something about missional living: As a young believer, I had the wonderful experience of being surrounded by saints who were constantly focused on the “missional” lifestyle. We were out sharing at least 2 times a week, and people were being saved, baptized, and added continuously. What I saw during that time was very special, and I pray that God will allow me to see it (and participate in it) again very soon. There was a big difference in the appoach back then. There was a real strong focus on discipleship. Everyone was encouaged to be discipled by an older brother, and to be discipling someone spiritually younger, all at the same time. Discipleship was not in large groups, it was mostly one on one. As a disciple I was accountable to someone for having something to share from my quiet times every day, scripture memorization, prayer, how I was doing with the guy(s) I was discipling, and more. With all that said, there was one topic that was common no matter how immature or mature you were: the need to be sharing the gospel. When you were working with a new or “baby” saint, you brought them with you and let them listen to you. If you went to a restaurant to eat with them, they saw you leave a tract with the tip. Practicing sharing the gospel through role playing was normal.

    One of the most important things to work on as we go about making real disciples is teaching immature believers how to share the gospel. Only so much can be done in a classroom setting. You have to get out and do it. There is no greater lesson that can be taught. If you are engaged in discipleship you have to ask yourself: Does the person I’m working with know what they believe? Have I armed them with verses that properly prepare them for battle, by encouraging them to memorize and meditate on them? Have I been an example to them by constantly pursuing opportunities to share the gospel? If the answer is no to any of those questions, then is discipleship happening at all?

    I forgot something. There was a culture back then amongst the mature. They fellowshipped together. They brought up these issues and challenged each other, usually more than once a week, which we are not doing. If a brother was not getting out to share, there didn’t need to be a big discussion. Some just grabbe him and said “Come on”, and took him to knock on doors in the neighborhood. The truth is I barely know you guys. I’ll never get to know you if we never meet as a group. There will never be peer pressure to share the gospel created if we never become peers. Thinking that genuine fellowship can be created by meeting once a week, or once every other week is nonsense and unscriptural (Acts 2:42). Genuine fellowship is a necessary element of discipleship, and genuine discipleship is a necessary element of missional living. Both are hard, and take time from our busy lives and our families. The stakes at high, my brothers: every day people die. Every day the field is ripe, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Are you in, or is this just a game? A team is what you need to live missionally. We sharpen each other and bring glory to God.

    New people who visit churches don’t come back because they don’t see the “love we have for each other”. This obvious love comes from laboring for the Lord together. As men of God, we are called to set the example. I’m ready. I’m praying that God is going to put us together as a team of men who are ready to lay aside all encumrances to accomplish His will.

  3. Joe, very insightful! My flesh fears what the Holy Spirit will do through me because my flesh loves the things of this world.

    One of the things that has been a HUGE eye-opener in Joy Unspeakable (the 2nd book on the list) is the fact that everything in the NT is based on what has previously happened in Acts- an incredible work of the Holy Spirit in amazing ways.

    It seems rare today because we write it off as just something the Apostles did or say that the time for such miracles has passed. How sad!!

    We need it today more than ever.

  4. Vince,
    Sorry it took so long to reply. You make a great point: Community is ESSENTIAL in encouraging each other for mission.

    Also, as we saw Sunday, the early church’s mission flowed naturally out of their community. This is the way God intended it to be.

    Thanks for the comment

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