THE REVIVAL OF THE CHURCH
We understand that the Church of the Lord Jesus received the baptism with the Holy Spirit with one main objective: the edification of the church.
In order to carry out the Lord’s Work, which is the edification of the Church, it is necessary first to know God’s Project for this edification. To enable us to know His Project, the Lord granted the church these spiritual resources:
- The Word of God, especially the New Testament, that contains specific instructions regarding the functioning of the Church; and
- The Holy Spirit, that operates through the 9 spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12:8-10) and the 5 ministries (Ef. 4:11).
These resources allow the Lord Jesus to indeed – and not just in theory – become the Head of the Church, that is His Body. Through His written Word and the Word that is transmitted to us through the spiritual gifts, the Lord Jesus is able to rule over His church, revealing His project for its edification. Through the 5 ministries, the Lord rules over His Church, because the servants used in these ministries carry out the Work of God based upon the doctrine revealed in the Bible (II Tim 3:16-17) and the specific instructions transmitted through the spiritual gifts, testing the gifts (II Tes. 5:10-20) and applying them with wisdom (I Cor. 14:20, 40).
It was to allow Jesus to communicate with His Church that the Lord decided to baptize His servants with the Holy Spirit – youth, adults and elderly – in the last days. According to Joel, the prophet, as a consequence of this baptism, His servants would receive visions, dreams and prophecies (Joel 2:28), that is, all the gifts that allow the Lord to reveal His will to his servants. The most emphasized gifts in the second half of the twentieth century, however, were the gifts of tongues and healings. And whenever there were prophecies, visions and dreams, they were mainly addressed to one person, in order to benefit one individual, and not to transmit orientations from the Lord to the Church in order to direct its functions (reveal anointings for pastors, show where the Churches should evangelize, point out solutions for problems in the church, etc.)
In Acts of the Apostles, however, the gifts were used especially to reveal God’s will for His Work. We have examples of this in the spiritual gifts by which the Lord revealed to Cornelius that he should invite Peter to his house, and to Peter not to hesitate, but preach the gospel to the gentiles in the house of this centurion; revealed to Paul that he should not preach the gospel in Asia or Bithynia, but in Macedonia; revealed to the Church which statutes of the Old Testament should be observed by the gentiles that converted; revealed to Philip that he should preach to the eunuch from Ethiopia, etc.
In conformity to this pattern in Acts, in the beginning of the Pentecostal movement in several parts of the world (Armenia, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, United States, etc.), the Lord used to direct his churches through the spiritual gifts. We have wonderful examples of how the Lord operated with great power in the end of the nineteenth century and in the twentieth century, especially in the beginning of these great operations of the Holy Spirit. However, later on groups of preachers started to emphasize the gifts of tongues and healings, and limit the use of the gifts of revelation (prophesy, interpretation of tongues, words of knowledge – dreams, visions, and revelations) only to answer the needs of individual servants and no longer for the direction of the church.
The same happened in the beginning of the charismatic movement. At first, the Lord started to direct a few groups, speaking through the spiritual gifts. Later, these groups stopped seeking the direction from the Lord, and started to be governed the same way the churches that do not believe in the baptism with the Holy Spirit are, and chose to use the gifts in the same way that the Pentecostal movement in its second phase did (see above). Finally, the gifts of revelation became scarcer, and an emphasis was given to healings and the charismatic movement started to emphasize a style of praise that is more effusive in its bodily expressions in the adoration of the church. Ironically, the word “charismatic” currently expresses a form of praise in which the main thing is the choreography, the presentation of a “praise group” that “performs” in front of the church through rehearsed movements to demonstrate that it is filled with the Holy Spirit and to entice the congregation to adore with its choreographed movements.
It is worth noting, in this regard, that the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, decided to reveal to the Church how a service of adoration should be. He refers, in I Cor. 14:23-32, only to spiritual gifts (tongues, revelation, interpretation), praises through Psalms and to teachings, giving specific instructions about how the gifts should be used with wisdom, being judged and used with decency and order (verse 40). He says nothing about the position the believers should sing in (sitting, prostrating, standing up), nor about bodily expressions (hands in the air, clapping, dancing, etc.). This is because what is important in a service from the adorer’s point of view, is the heart, it is an adoration in spirit and in truth; and from God’s point of view, it is His ability to speak to, to edify and to direct His people.
It is, nevertheless, the will of the Lord to operate again in the same way He operated in the time of the Acts of the Apostles, and in the beginning of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement: speaking to His people, revealing His will to them, playing his role as the Head of the Church. And the role of the Holy Spirit, according to the Lord Jesus, is exactly to allow the messages from the to Head reach the Body: “He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15).
The Church needs to announce certain basic points that have been forgotten by the Churches in general, which are necessary for Jesus to indeed be the Head of the Church, and thus the Church may be able to carry out the Work of the Holy Spirit, which is the original and theoretical objective of the true Church – especially the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches. For a Reformation of the Church in the twenty-first century, it is necessary to return to the origins, to return to the Acts of the Apostles, to return to the beginning of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, to believe and practice what is summarized in these "Basic Doctrines" mentioned in the Homepage.