“But when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.” 1 Corinthians 13:10 (HCSB)
There are two very distinct groups of churches, those who embrace the Holy Spirit and those who don’t! Cessationism is the doctrine that believes the spiritual gifts such as tongues, healings, miracles, prophecy ceased when the perfect was made known (1 Corinthians 13:10). This perfect is usually defined (by those who hold this view) as either being the Bible or the “Apostolic Age” of the church. Those who embrace the fullness of the Holy Spirit see the perfect as when Jesus is revealed in glory, when such gifts are not necessary!
And the gap between the two is getting wider. Those who reject the working of the Holy Spirit giftings and anointings tend to be more aggressive about rejecting, condemning, cancelling and withdrawing from those who embrace Him! The crazy thing is, there is a group of believers stuck in the middle. They want more of the Holy Spirit. They desire His presence, power, gifts and words, but they practically don’t make space for Him in their lives and/or their church services. They may sing songs such as “Come Holy Spirit,” and pray for Him to be fully expressing, but they never allow Him space to operate. Much of this is out of fear of what people will think when the Holy Spirit makes a mess of things. I recently heard of one pastor who had a powerful move of the Holy Spirit in his church, only to have 70 some letters arrive that next week and the elders told him that he can never do that again! Sadly, there have been Holy Spirit movements in our city which have been shut down, with the doors intentionally locked to prevent it happening again!
As revival begins to rev up in our city and nation, these churches that don’t want to have anything to do with the power of Holy Spirit will either feel the pressure from their members to join in and will do so, or they will become even more aggressive against the move. Just as in Jesus’ day, this move of God will be persecuted from inside and outside the church. This is where we need to really pray for grace over those who are resisting (Acts 7:51), grieving (Ephesians 4:30), quenching (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and /or even blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31, Luke 12:10). Our role is to love, not be offended, to keep pursuing, to keep blessing and never ever rejecting them! After all, many of us were there once, and by God’s grace He has revealed the Holy Spirit to us.
Pray also for those who are stuck in the middle. Ask God to “ruin” them for more of Him. Cry out for tangible and powerful encounters with the Holy Spirit, so much so that they cannot go back living as practical cessationists! Pray for pastors to be bold and courageous, instead of being afraid of what people might think when the Holy Spirit shows up and makes a mess. Pray that the Holy Spirit might fill you more and more with His miraculous power, His heavenly wisdom, and His beautiful language! Pray for the churches across our city to be prepared for when the dam breaks releasing the fullness of revival in Athens and beyond, that we would not miss our day of visitation.