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Word and Spirit

How can the Church find real balance?

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, one of the last things he had to say to his disciples was in this passage:

 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)

Yet it took ten days since his Ascension for the Holy Spirit to descend on his disciples in Jerusalem. Why did it take so long? Everything God does is for a purpose. And this purpose should now be clear to us. He was waiting for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, the Jewish celebration of the Word, the Law, the Torah, to arrive, so that the festival of His Word could be enriched by the giving of the Holy Spirit.

As I write this, it is the time of Shavuot. We also know that Pentecost, the festival of the Spirit, was originally celebrated on the same day, but we observed in last week’s article that now a full month separates the two. Word and Spirit! There really should be no separation. In 1947, the powerful preacher and prophet Smith Wrigglesworth said, “When the Word and the Spirit come together, there will be the biggest movement of the Holy Spirit that the nation, and indeed the world, has ever seen”.

So what’s the problem here? It seems that we Christians are the problem, with our thousands of denominations (40,000+ at the last count), each with its own distinction or flavour, but mostly out of step with the original model. God prefers us to live simply, holistically, in wholeness, in shalom with His full revelation. Instead we ‘pic ‘n’ mix’ from the Divine supermarket, selecting expressions of faith and conduct consistent with our needs, backgrounds and expectations, rather than the original deal represented by Shavuot and Pentecost, Word and Spirit, celebrated together on the same day. The Word without the Spirit is like a bag of chips without the salt, solid nutritious food but without the zip and energy. We need to be wrapped up in both, seamlessly, mindful that, according to this anonymous quote;

If you have the Word but not the Spirit you will dry up. If you have the Spirit but not The Word you will blow up! If you have The Spirit AND The Word you will grow up.

The Church needs to grow up and find a unity that has never been present since the days of Peter and that first church. When it does, perhaps only then we will see Wrigglesworth’s prophecy fulfilled and the world will stand amazed.

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