A new wave of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church has emerged

This is my response to the recent posts at InternetMonk.com on the “Coming Evangelical Collapse” (Part 1 and Part 2) and comes as my personal response just after I made my first post (here). I’m sitting here on Sunday night thinking: “Okay, the church seems to be waning” but I ask myself if Christ is still the lord of the church? I believe he is. Michael Spencer may be pessimistic (and perhaps also realistic) about the old-school evangelical church in North America, but I think he may be missing what God is doing around the world. Sorry Michael… but with all this bad news in the decline in evangelicalism, I do not think God is done with the evangelical churches, or even the mainline churches. In fact, I dare say that God will revive the evangelical churches and mainline churches.

Jesus is the Lord of the church and will always be the lord of the church. We humans may try to usurp God but think we can figure him out but God is going to confound us intelligent humans by doing something unintelligible. God will transform his church. Who is to say that the evangelical church that iMonk is speaking of will not change? I believe the Holy Spirit will do his work and move in a new and sovereign way to renew Christ’s church. It will look radically different from the old form. It may be scary to us but not to the new generations of new Christians who will enter this new church that will emerge.

Let’s never forget what God has done throughout the recent history of the church. God used Martin Luther and John Calvin to give birth to the churches of the Reformation (i.e., Lutheran and Reformed). The Holy Spirit used Luther and Calvin because the Pope, and those high up in the ecclesiastical ranks of the Roman Catholic Church, denied certain evangelical truths. (Note: let’s not get hung up on theology at this point, which can be debated until kingdom come). Later, God used evangelical revivalists such as John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Charles Finney to give birth to the evangelical churches because the churches of the Reformation became complacent. Then God used Charles Parham and William J. Seymour to give birth to the pentecostal churches because evangelical churches became complacent. Now God is using new generations of charismatics to give birth to third and fourth generations of Pentecostal-charismatic churches because the first wave of Pentecostalism has become complacent. Each generation of churches have neglected an important aspect of God’s truth and reality so the Holy Spirit has raised up a new generation to include important aspects of God’s truth in his church today. Today, a new wave that has emerged in the charismatic movement is spreading like wildfire around the world. However, God is not ignoring the older church denominations either. I believe God is merciful and will revive the older mainline and evangelical churches. I do not believe that God wants to throw out the old for the new.

While we are seeing a decline in attendance and memberships in many all of the mainline protestant denominations in North America and Europe, the charismatic movement is spreading very rapidly around the world. In fact, it is spreading so fast that we in the western world cannot even begin to keep track of what is happening in the new church around the world. That is where the bulk of the growth is. In fact, the charismatic movement is even giving a re-birth to the old mainline denominations in the developing world (e.g., Lutheran, Reformed-Presbyterian, Methodist, including the Roman Catholic Church). It is through this charismatic revival that the old mainline and evangelical churches are being revived in the developing world through. (Old school theologians may not want to admit to the huge contribution of the charismatic movement but it’s true).

Furthermore, evangelical churches around the world are not dying; they are actually also growing very rapidly. This charismatic revival is reviving the evangelical churches around the world too. Baptist churches around the world are also growing. In fact the number of denominations around the world are increasing every day.

So even though the mainline denominations seem to be in the latter stages of life, and the old-old school evangelical churches (e.g., Baptists) are just entering the latter stage of life, God is reshaping and recreating a new church that will take the place of the old. I am not at all afraid of the future because Jesus Christ is still the lord of the church. Just as old wine is meant to be stored in old wineskins, and new wine is meant to be stored in new wineskins, Christ’s new emerging church will take a new shape and form that we will not recognize. We might be wise to put on our seatbelts and take hold of the handle bars, because God is birthing his church around the world that will surprise the old former Christian world.

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

10 thoughts on “A new wave of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church has emerged”

  1. Dear Kevin, this is a very insightful post. God is doing something wonderful in many churches as you noted and it will be something quite marvellous as the new wine is poured out into new wineskins. The Spirit can certainly revive churches (mainline or evangelical) as He is doing around the world. I also agree that theologians and biblical scholars do not give enough credit to the charismatic movement in terms of bringing the harvest of souls into the kingdom. So it is left to writers like Philip Jenkins to document the growth of global Christianity in recent years. Thanks again for your wonderful post.

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  2. I agree that we are seeing a huge explosion of religious energy in Global South, and also for that matter in Asia — particularly in Protestantism, but also in all the Christian churches. Christianity is a world-wide religion, and just as we are seeing Anglicanism being reinvigorated by Global South, I think that other religions will see that as well.

    I think that one reason for this is that North America and Western Europe, Christianity’s main intellectual competitor is atheism, while there is a real struggle in other areas: Christianity vs. Islam, Christianity vs. Communism, and sometimes Protestantism vs. Catholicism. This sort of intellectual struggle has brought new energy.

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  3. Tony, thanks for bringing up Philip Jenkins. If the west continues to ignore or minimize what the Holy Spirit is doing in the rest of the world, it will miss out on this revival of the church. What I feel is worst is when we, in the west, try to control and direct the works of God happening throughout the world. This attempt to control through ecclesiastical domination is very arrogant, and inevitably results in a backlash against the established church in the west (which is already happening). I think the new church in the global south is already leaving the establish church in the west behind.

    Theophrastus, yes, amongst the mainline denominations, Lutheranism and Catholicism are also being revived. I would suggest that this new energy you identify through intellectual-philosophical debate you identified is mostly happening in the west. I think the church growth in the global south is being invigorated by nothing less than the work of the Holy Spirit, and not by intellectual debate.

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  4. With all due respect, I disagree with your view of any reviving of Christianity. What is happening today is a revival of thinking. Thinking Christians are learning that the messiah they have been taught to follow can’t be the messiah of the Torah. Confronted with real historical facts Christians have no choice but to abandon Christianity because it defies logic. So who are you following?

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  5. Julio,

    But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Rev 2:4-5 ESV)

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

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  6. Julio, I’m not condemning what you choose to believe. And whether you believe the prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus or not, it really doesn’t matter (adiaphora) all that much (in the biblical sense). The important thing is that Jesus came and set the captives free from their sins and showed us what forgiveness is. This in itself is enough for me to receive him as my messiah.

    I hope you will see Yeshua (Jesus) as your messiah again some day. He has all the power to prove himself to you that he is the messiah, and the Holy Spirit, who is his helper will show you with the power of conviction and confidence.

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  7. Hello!

    Kevin wrote: “I hope you will see Yeshua (Jesus) as your messiah again some day.”

    My reply:
    [To differentiate,] Do you want to follow the historical Y’hoshua??

    Do you want to follow the first century Jewish Mashiakh [‘Messiah’] called Y’hoshua? He grew up in Galilee. Did you know that many words that are attributed to him was not said by him – including much of the content in the “gospels”, but was redacted by Hellenists: Documentation: Link?

    Did you know that the historical Mashiakh was a Jewish Rabbi and that he was a human, and not a ‘divine saviour’?

    Did you know that he taught people to follow the Instruction manual of the Creator called Torah [‘books of Moses’]?

    Documentations of all these statements are found on www (dot) netzarim (dot) co (dot) il

    Do you want to follow the historical Rabbi called Y’hoshua, or the counterfeit image of him created by Christians and found in the “gospels”??

    You equate Y’hoshua with the opposite, the Hellenist counterfeit J-sus. They website www (dot) netzarim (dot) co (dot) il proves that they are not the same.

    Following the human Mashiakh called Yehoshua leads oneself into non-selectively Torah-observance to ones utmost, including an immensely meaningful relationship with the Creator.

    I wish you all the best and hope that you will adapt and start following the Creator according to the way He has commanded us in His Torah.

    Anders Branderud

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  8. Anders,

    Thanks for the link. I do believe that Jesus was Hellenized to a degree, but remained Jewish first. Greek New Testament manuscripts prove that Jesus’ sayings were recorded in the Gospels not too long after he resurrected and ascended into heaven.

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  9. I am pleased to see your courage to stand in support of what God is doing through Charismatic denominations. I hope that we in turn choose to value the richness of symbolism and ritual from the traditions of mainline churches.

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