What would be left if...?
By Paul Ravenhill
We have all heard the question, "What would be left if the Holy Spirit were taken away from our churches?" ... and we are all familiar with the answer, "not very much would change because, in reality, there is only a very minimal activity of the Holy Spirit in our churches."
Maybe we could more easily find our true state if we were to examine each phase of the churches activity from another aspect... by turning the question around and asking ourselves, "Where would we be if all of man's activity were removed from our churches?" What would be left if this were to take place? Who is behind each determination that is taken... is it God or is it man?
So much of our horizontal outreach appears to spring more from human sympathy, than from a quickening of the Holy Spirit in the heart.
So much of our work from a loyalty to a decision of policy, than from the will of God.
So much in our meetings, our ministries, our missions and our desire for revival gives the impression of being born of a desire to set the earth of mankind right - rather than a desire to see things set in harmony with the will of heaven.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem there was a moment when the vision and proclamation of the prophet was fulfilled and the darkness lifted from hearts of the Jews. In that unique moment of revelation their cry was, "peace in Heaven."
Pascal said something to the effect that all of earth's pain is first felt in heaven. If this is true then our burden should be to "set heaven right."
Going back to our question: I believe we would do well to ask ourselves, "What would be left if... ... ?" And apply this question to each aim, each project, each meeting.
What would be left of our music and praise if we took away all the psychological components of beat, syncopation, flourishes, "the sound attack" -- the whole idea of bodies trying to push souls along... and souls trying to push the spirit along?
What would be left of our preaching if only the message from God were left? If there were not built on technical or theological explanations? -- And if we left out all of the illustrations and stories geared to the emotions. Again, have we put the cart before the horse here too? Is it man or the Holy Spirit who leads the way in our endeavors to transmit the truth.
What about the place of the pastor himself? Sometime ago someone told me, they were sick of the adulation given to leaders. What if ministers were judged only on the merits of the presence of God in their lives - would there be anything left? If pastors were to loose the consciousness of "being really something," capable and sufficient - would there be anything left?
We could look at many things in our churches, but let's leave this by asking ourselves... Could it be that we are like the church at Laodicea not knowing that we are "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked?"
I believe that many who have spoken of the glorious work of God in these coming days have perceived a measure of truth. However, while we have heard of the need of emptiness, death, and poverty of spirit there seems to have been almost no idea of the extent to which God needs to destroy...to totally annihilate...the false within our lives and within the church. There is perhaps a belief that out of this church God will cause to spring forth a new and glorious body. Brethren, I believe there are many, many, many things which will have to be burned until not even the ashes are left.
God will raise up for Himself
(and it will be after our churches, institutions,
society and nation, and our own nature passes through His fire)
a church birthed and raised up by Himself alone:
A church that does not have to bow the knee
To any man,
To any organization, or
To any of the policies designed to help it along in unity and
fellowship with those who follow "another gospel".
After the destruction and death there is a third day of resurrection when God "will raise us up and we shall live in His sight" (Hosea 2:2).
A new life,
In a new church,
For a new day.
Copyright © Paul Ravenhill 1998 - http://www.ravenhill.org/