How to Start the Work of the Spirit in a Church
How to Start the Work of the Spirit in a Church
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Rom. 8:14)
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (I Cor. 2:9-10)
As many pastors find out about the revival that the Lord is operating in a certain country, they believe that it is a wonderful happening that depends on the sovereign will of the Lord and that nothing can be done so that a similar operation happens in their country or church. The same can happen regarding the Work that the Holy Spirit is now operating in Brazil. However, in several parts of the world, in every continent, the Lord is awakening churches and is starting to guide them through the Hoy Spirit through the spiritual gifts.
This is happening because the will of the Lord is that His whole church is always awake, filled with love, faith and hope, serving the Lord and the brethren with faithfulness and dedication. The Church of the Lord Jesus in every part of the world must be filled with spiritual warmth resulting from the operation of the fire of the Holy Spirit so that it can be prepared for the rapture. If not, it runs the risk of being vomited by the Lord (Rev. 3:16), as it is read in the letter written to the church in Laodicea.
The operation of the Holy Spirit in a church today presents the same characteristics observed in past revivals. But it also shows Pentecostal evidences that are necessary to the prophetic moment that the Church is living: soon the Lord Jesus will return! In the current days the Lord is granting the Church all the resources He granted the first Church – including the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts – as written in the book of Acts of the Apostles and in the letters of the New Testament.
Since the beginning of the Pentecostal movement, in the second half of the 9th century, these resources were present in the Church, for they are indispensable for its edification: the 9 spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians 12:8-10, the 5 ministries indicated in Ephesians 4:11, the power of the blood of the Lord Jesus (Rev. 12:11) and the Church as the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12-31). Thus, the Lord Jesus can operate His role as the Head of the Church, revealing all His will to an obedient people, who is ready to fulfill it.
This article will demonstrate how a pastor can direct his church to seek and reach the spiritual awakening that the Lord wants to operate in the whole world and in every church, baptizing with the Holy Spirit and leading the churches through the spiritual gifts, regardless of the denomination or association of churches they belong to.
Willingness to Serve
In order for the Lord to operate in a church, it is necessary, first of all, that the pastor be willing to be used by the Lord, being obedient to His orientations, not fearing the opposition that will come about around him, even from the members of his congregation. He should, then, start to pray and fast so that the Lord strengthen him and use him with anointing and grace to motivate and instruct his church.
The pastor will need to teach the Church the basic lessons of the Scriptures regarding the service to the Lord and to the brethren:
1. We were saved to serve (John 12:26), not only to enjoy the spiritual and material blessings.
2. Serving is an evidence of salvation and should be done with diligence, especially because whoever does not serve the brethren cannot be certain of salvation (Heb. 6:9-12).
3. The Lord is the one who chooses the function of the servant of the church (I Cor. 12:11, 18), confirming this function to the pastors; the servant should, therefore, be ready to perform the function that is appointed to him.
4. All the members of the church should be faithful witnesses to the Lord Jesus (Acts. 1:8).
5. All the members should seek baptism with the Holy Spirit with prayers and fast (Acts 2:38-39).
Throughout the teaching process, the pastor should act with prudence and wisdom. It is convenient to transmit the understanding of the Work that the Lord wants to do in the church to the leaders and in the believers who thirst the blessing of the Lord. The servant should be patient – for each person has a rhythm and a capacity to accept new teachings – and instruct the most resistant servants individually.
Obedience to the Lord
The pastor should teach the church regarding the need for obedience and faithfulness to the Lord, including every one of the teachings of the Word of God, explaining that the true believers are naturally obedient to the Lord for love and gratitude for the great salvation that the Lord gave him/her.
He should also teach the need for obedience to the revelations that the Lord is granting regarding details of the daily life of the church or of the servants, for the obedience to the orientations of the Lord is necessary for the edification of the believers, individually, and to the edification of the church, collectively.
Willingness to obey is basic for the Lord to grant the spiritual gifts and, through prophecy, interpretation of tongues and the word of knowledge (dreams, visions and revelations), He can start to speak to the church, telling about the different needs, above all His plan for the edification of the Church.
The pastor should teach that, when the Lord speaks to the church but there is no obedience, He stops speaking. For this reason there is no more prophecy in many churches. Each orientation of the Lord should have a corresponding response from the church or the believer.
When the church understands this teaching and is willing to obey the revelations of the Lord, He will be able to reveal, for example, about:
(1) Evangelism – where, when and how to evangelize a certain place; when and how to hold a special meeting of evangelism;
(2) Functions of the church – who He chose to fulfill certain functions of the church, the preparation (fast, prayer, early dawns, etc.) that is necessary for the servants to be used in the Spirit;
(3) Hidden sins in the church – so that the pastor can call on the persons that were indicated and exhort them to abandon sin; “a little leaven can leaven all the dough” and will hinder the fulfillment of the Work of God in the church; etc.
The Power of the Blood of Jesus
The pastor should start to seek the Lord in order to have personal experiences with the power of the Blood of Jesus through “pleading for the blood”. We understand, from this, that this is a prayer in which we plead to God the Father who operates the blessing that is needed (fellowship, deliverance, protection, etc.) based upon the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. In other words, in prayer the faith in the power of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is manifest so that in that moment one can receive the blessing that he needs. The Lord answers the prayer granting, through the Holy Spirit, fellowship, deliverance and protection.
After that, he should teach the church to seek similar experiences conducting a biblical study that is well grounded (see the article regarding “ The Power of the Blood of Jesus” in this site). The pastor will lead the church to plead for the blood of Jesus in the beginning of each meeting, praying that the Lord may grant all those who are present the blessing of forgiveness of sins and the resulting fellowship, necessary in order for the Holy Spirit to operate in that meeting.
As a result of this prayer that is specific and objective, the Lord will grant purification, a deeper fellowship, deliverance from all forms of worries and spiritual disturbance. Consequently, there will be manifestations of the spiritual gifts, and the believers will be protected from manifestations that are not from the Holy Spirit in that meeting.
Seeking and Using the Spiritual Gifts
In a church where the spiritual gifts are scarce, the pastor should instruct the church about the importance of the spiritual gifts for its edification (I Cor. 14:3-5 and 12-19) and seek with zeal and perseverance the spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12:31 and 14:1, 13), praying (even in early dawns) and fasting individually for this specific objective (even in short vigils).
The church needs to know that the gift of prophecy is manifest in the same way that a vision given by the Spirit, when the servant, even with his/her eyes open, sees a certain scene. Likewise, no one can learn to have visions, nor “learn how to prophecy”. The servant used in the true gift of prophecy suddenly receives messages from the Lord and his/her role is only to retransmit what he/she heard from the Lord.
The pastor will also teach the church that the spiritual gifts should be used with wisdom and under the supervision of the pastor of the church. In order for this to happen, the manifestations of the gifts should be taken to the knowledge of the pastor. Wisdom in the case of the use of the gifts refer, mainly, to the observation of a series of practical recommendations noted in Chapter 14 of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. It refers to not speaking in tongues in meetings of the church, unless there is interpretation, to speaking one prophet after the other and to the order in using the gifts in the church and so on.
The supervision by the pastor of the use of the gifts in the church is necessary for the gifts to be used appropriately. This supervision is necessary because the pastor has greater knowledge of the needs of the church and spiritual condition of the one being used, in addition to more spiritual discernment than the members, being able to direct the members of the church regarding the use of the gifts with decency, order, and wisdom.
The supervision of the pastor is necessary because the manifestation of the gifts should be judged or tested (I Tess. 5:19-21), so that it is known if they indeed come from the Holy Spirit, and are interpreted so that it is known exactly what the Lord wanted to say. The Word of God teaches that the judgment or test is not up to the person who was used but to the others (this issue will be further developed in the topic “Preparation for the Group of Intercessors”). If a manifestation of a spiritual gift is not duly judged, a church will be deceived by gifts that did not proceed from the Lord. Finally, if the correct interpretation of a manifestation of a gift is not given, the fulfillment that is expected will not happen, and the people will conclude, without reason, that the manifestation did not come from the Holy Spirit.
This question is important, for the non-fulfillment of a gift or the non-fulfillment of a wrong interpretation frequently leads to disappointments with the spiritual gifts, leading a church to reject the practice of the spiritual gifts and, thus, prevent the Lord to lead it by the Spirit.
Preparation for the Group of Intercessors
The pastor should prepare the deacons and other faithful servants who live in sanctification and who are used in spiritual gifts to be part of a “Group of Intercessors” (Acts 17:11). It is up to them to aid the pastor in judging and interpreting the spiritual gifts, and intercede for delicate issues of the church (spiritual problems, major struggles) that should not reach the knowledge of the congregation, which is frequently made up of many newly converted members.
The group of intercessors will periodically meet, always with the presence of the pastor, to test all the manifestations of the spiritual gifts that are of interest to the members of the church and for the church, collectively. The Lord will speak, in general, through the spiritual gifts, through the other believers, confirming or not the manifestation that is being tested. When the Lord confirms, He normally adds information regarding the same issue. In this way, the pastor has a broader knowledge of the issue, helping him to better understand the will of the Lord regarding this issue and, thus, make the best and more accurate decision.
The group of intercessors will also help the pastor to correctly interpret the manifestation of the gifts, although the final word is always up to the pastor. The correct interpretation can come by the knowledge of the biblical symbols – for the Lord frequently speaks symbolically in visions and dreams – or through a revelation.
However, it is up to the pastor to determine the most adequate way to apply each manifestation of the gifts. For example, he can decide that a vision from the Lord regarding a flaw in the live of a new convert should be a reason only for intercession by the more mature members of the church, not necessarily taken to the knowledge of the interested person. He/she can understand that an orientation transmitted regarding the separation of a servant for the deaconship cannot be carried out immediately, but in the future, because the believer is still new, which is against the teaching of the Word of God.
Consulting the Lord
The pastor should not be limited to obeying the orientations that the Lord takes the initiative to reveal. In the meeting of the Group of Intercession, the pastor should also take the initiative to ask the Lord’s advice regarding the issues of more relevance for the life of the church. This will happen, most of the times, in the meetings of the Group of Intercession. The more the Lord is consulted, the better. He has the opportunity to reveal important details for the victory in a certain question and that we would not know if He did not reveal.
It is convenient, for example, to consult the Lord issues such as: (1) who the Lord has chosen for certain relevant functions at the Church (deacons, Sunday School teachers, etc. – Acts 13:2-3), (2) the solution for problems that the church is going through (lack of growth, children who are not interested in the church, members that do not want to serve the Lord or who live in sin – Acts 5:3-4), (3) when and how to start an evangelism in a certain neighborhood (Acts 16:6-10), etc.
Before consulting the Lord, the issue should be explained to the Group of Intercessors and discussed, for the Lord also requires that we use good sense, wisdom that we acquire through the knowledge of the Word of God and the experience gathered throughout the Christian life. All this knowledge also helps interpret the manifestations of the spiritual gifts that the Lord will grant correctly.
Spiritual Union among the Pastors
The pastor should start to live the doctrine regarding the Church as the Body of Christ in the pastoral level. He should live in spiritual fellowship (Psalm 133:1-3) with other pastors who have the same desire of having his church directed by the Holy Spirit and who, for this reason, understand the importance of the operation of the spiritual gifts and the 5 ministries of Ephesians 4:11.
As the Lord does not have all the 5 ministries in a local church, but they are granted to the Church as a whole, that is, to the group of churches. For this reason, it is necessary that no church have an independent life, spiritually separated from the others.
The same can be said about the pastors. Isolated, no pastor can have a satisfactory spiritual life. When the pastors are spiritually united – in true spiritual fellowship – the Lord starts to manifest the different ministries. The pastors should, themselves, seek the spiritual gifts so that they can be more useful to the Lord and for the pastors’ meetings to be more fruitful.
When the pastors started to be used in the spiritual gifts, the Lord, in these meetings, will start to (1) reveal the private needs of the pastors, (2) advise them regarding the problems that they are facing in their churches, (3) show solutions for the growth of the churches, etc. When the Lord feels the need to correct a pastor, always for his edification, He will use the other pastors in these pastors’ meetings. There will be no need for the Lord to speak to the members of a church to correct this pastor.
The Union in the Spirit among the pastors, resulting of the true spiritual communion (not institutional), is only possible when the Lord is truly present in the midst of the pastors, speaking through the spiritual gifts in the meetings. In this way, the Lord is teaching, correcting, exhorting. The pastors will not feel at ease to do the will of the flesh, nor to promote divisions.
The Lord wants to operate in every church and in every part of the world, awakening the churches to live in sanctification and in obedience to His Word and to His will revealed through the spiritual gifts.
In order for this to happen, it is enough to have one willing pastor. He should only start to seek the Lord and teach his congregation the basic biblical teachings regarding the issue, leading it to use the spiritual means in his reach – fasting and prayer – to seek the spiritual gifts.
The pastors who have the same goal should seek to live in fellowship, meeting regularly for spiritual support (prayer and counsel), consult the Lord about their needs and mutual edification.
“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:10-13)