Too many churches have become mausoleums for the dead rather than coliseums of praise for a living God. They have lost the spirit of Pentecost! They have lost their enthusiasm. They have lost their joy for Jesus and find themselves suffering from what William Willimon calls “Institutional and spiritual Dry Rot.” If the Church is to survive the next millennium it must recapture some of the praise and enthusiasm it had two millennia ago.
The church is the creation of the Spirit. It is a community of believers who owe their religious life from first to last to the Spirit….Religious services and organized institutions do not constitute a Christian Church, and these may flourish without the gift of Pentecostal fire.
There is no need for us to wait, as the one hundred and twenty had to wait [Acts 1], for the Spirit to come. For the Holy Spirit did come on the day of Pentecost, and has never left his church. Our responsibility is to humble ourselves before his sovereign authority, to determine not to quench him, but to allow him his freedom. For then our churches will again manifest those marks of the Spirit’s presence which many young people are especially looking for, namely biblical teaching, loving fellowship, living worship, and an ongoing, outgoing evangelism.
Since the days of Pentecost, has the whole church ever put aside every other work and waited upon Him for ten days, that the Spirit’s power might be manifested? We give too much attention to method and machinery and resources, and too little to the source of power.
Pentecost gave me the key to the Scriptures. It has kept my feet in all the slippery places of all sorts of criticism. The things that are stumbling blocks to so many are stepping stones to me. The inexplicable becomes plain when we recognize the presence and law of the Spirit. It balances scholarship, and gives discernment beyond all human learning. Indeed, learning without the Holy Spirit blinds men to the realities of divine truth. The man who thinks he can know the Word of God by mere intellectual study is greatly deceived. Spiritual truth is spiritually discerned.
I owe everything to the gift of Pentecost. For fifty days the facts of the Gospel were complete, but no conversions were recorded. Pentecost registered three thousand souls. It is by fire that a holy passion is kindled in the soul whereby we live the life of God. The soul’s safety is in its heat. Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, make for a Church without power.
Would it not be the height of folly if Tasmania were to resolve to cut the supply of power from that mountain lake and to substitute handpower? Would not the factories soon close down, and the incipient harvest of prosperity suddenly wither? Yet it often seems as though the modern Church were in danger of making a similar mistake. In scores of cases she [the Church] is disconnecting herself from the dynamic of Pentecost, and is endeavouring to find compensation for her loss of spiritual power in brilliance of intellect in the pulpit, in highly organized and expensive machinery, and by calling to her aid incidental accessories, which are borrowed from the world; and which, even where they may be comparatively innocent, are totally unfit to secure the great ends for which she was called into being, according to the purpose and plan of her great Architect.