“The Christian’s life in all its aspects – intellectual, and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness – is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from Him [the Holy Spirit], not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all.” — J. I. Packer
A Supernatural Relationship
These are sobering words proffered by Mr. Packer; words that need to be applied to the churches we attend. It is up to believers to examine the activities and programs of our churches and to determine whether these are driven by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit or by the (humanistic) power of the world.
There is a fine line between being led by the Spirit and being led by the flesh. True believers find themselves sometimes operating in their own strength, even though they were initially led by the Spirit.
It is hard not to get caught up in using the world’s strategies and techniques when so many well-meaning church leaders are actually writing popular “how-to” books on the subject. If these books are solidly scripture-based, they may be appropriate and have value. However, if they are more focused on positive thinking, man’s reasoning and “success” orientations; while they may work temporarily, the Spirit may well be quenched in the process.
In Revelation 3:14-21, we read about a church who didn’t recognize that they were not allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them any longer. Among other things, Jesus described them as rich, wealthy and in need of nothing; at the same time, He also referred to them being merely “lukewarm.” They thought they were doing just fine. They were comfortable and relying on the ways of the world instead of the leading of the Spirit. Jesus says to them, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me.” [Verse 20]
Jesus could well have been saying these words to today’s church member. He (Jesus) is outside the door of the church in Revelation. Think about the picture we’re seeing here and ask yourself: where was Jesus then (at the church of Laodicea) and where is He now (in your case)? Are you being led by the Spirit or by a strategy of the world? According to J.I. Packer, there will be no believers or congregation at all if the Spirit is left outside the door. It’s time to invite Him in. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” —Revelation 3:22