Thursday, April 21, 2022

Still in the Building?

Christian America has been stirred by the decision of the leaders of Vineyard Anaheim to secede from Vineyard USA. This decision was shocking because John Wimber was heavily involved in establishing Vineyard Anaheim, and many people see it as the mother of the Vineyard movement.

Geoff Holsclaw who is a professor at Northern Seminary and a pastor at Vineyard Grand Rapids asked and answered the following question.

Has Vineyard USA lost its “anointing”? Has God’s anointing passed to those of the Toronto Blessing, to the Kansas City Prophets, or to Bethel Redding, and The New Apostolic Reformation? (Yes, I have heard this privately...many times).
His full answer is here, but his conclusion is,
I’m certain the anointing of God’s Spirit has not left the building.
I value Geoff’s teaching, but I not sure that he is totally correct.

I decided to follow Jesus in 1974 when I studying at University (I was a late starter). After a year of seeking to follow him, I felt that I was not progressing quickly enough. I talked with a friend, and she suggested that I read the book of Acts, to see if I could discover what made the early Christians different from me. I followed her advice, and the answer to her question was obvious.

The difference was the presence of the fulness of the Holy Spirit. After claiming Luke 11:9-13, I was baptised in the Holy Spirit sitting in my bed one Saturday morning while my wife was at work. I was given a heavenly language, which has continued to refresh me until this day.

In the season that followed, we saw some amazing things. (This occurred during the Charismatic Renewal in New Zealand). The Holy Spirit seemed to be doing amazing things everywhere. This was real steak, not sizzle. People were not falling down (that did not come to until the Toronto Blessing took off twenty years later). People were being healed and delivered.

Sadly, a few years on, the activity of the Holy Spirit seemed to go into decline. Some people believe that they can almost mark the date this happened. We dealt with this decline by assuming that the Holy Spirit moves in seasons. We assumed that the season where the Holy Spirit was moving freely had come to an end, but another season of similar blessing would come again in the future.

Now, more than forty years later, I realise that we were fooling ourselves. The season of blessing did not end because the Holy Spirit lost interest or decided to pause things for a while.

I believe now that we were responsible for the end of our season of blessing. The season ended because we grieved the Holy Spirit. Looking back, I understand that we tried to take the blessing of the Holy Spirit and use it to renew the church. The problem was that the Holy Spirit was wanting to do something radically different. He wanted to transform the church to prepare it for the next season when he would establish the Kingdom of God on earth during a season of trouble on earth. We refused to heed his call to change because we believed that we could enjoy the blessing of the Spirit within the existing church structures.

The Holy Spirit cannot achieve his goals with a church that is led by big-name leaders and conducts its activities in buildings where the people of the world cannot see what he is doing. The Holy Spirit wants a church that is led by teams of elders with balanced giftings. He wants a church that is active in the places where people live. Until the church is willing to change in the way that the Holy Spirit is asking, we will continue to grieve him.

The Holy Spirit has not left the building, but it is not his happy place.

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