(The following article is Part One of a three-part series called "Spirit-Empowered Ministry." The articles were originally published in Korean in the Shinangye (Life of Faith) magazine by the Central Full Gospel (Yoido) Church in Seoul, Korea, in the June, July and August 2016 issues.)
For over a year now, I have been writing on the person and work of the Holy Spirit drawing largely from the Dunamis Course: Gateways to Empowered Ministry. (For more information, see www.koreadunamis.org and dunamisinstitute.org.) The reason that I have been focusing on this so much is that I am convinced that as we seek to carry the Gospel into North Korea, above all else, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Unless we operate in the Holy Spirit, under His direction and using His gifts and the equipping that He provides for us, our efforts to proclaim the Gospel in North Korea may well fail. Let us now look at how to apply what we have learned about the Holy Spirit in relation to the mission to North Korea. This month we will look at unity.
As I have shared before, the Lord has made it abundantly clear to me that the most important preparation for the opening of North Korea is to pray for, seek and achieve unity within the Church of Jesus Christ in the South. As I have spoken and written about this through the years, I keep coming back to the importance of the Holy Spirit for achieving true unity.
I have seen and participated in many movements toward greater unity within the Church. I have attended unity worship services, unity seminars and other programs focused on church unity. I have seen various attempts of churches and church leaders to come together in associations and organizations pledged to unity. I have participated in prayer meetings focused on unity. Some of these have been more successful than others. Some have brought much excitement about unity only to see it dissipate over time following the event—sometimes over a very short time… In all of this, the single factor that I have found to be the most effective for bringing true and lasting unity is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the pursuit of a truly Biblical understanding of the person, work and power of the Holy Spirit. From all that we have been learning about the Holy Spirit, we can readily see why this would be true.
Let us think for a few moments about some of the things that hinder our unity, that separate us from each other, that break down our community.
I will start with the most positive issue; the one that we would not think is in any way connected to our sin. It is the truly pastoral effort to protect the faithful from deception and the work of our Enemy. Jesus, Himself, actually spoke about this very thing.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:34-37)
“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:53)
Jesus’ life and message are, by their very nature, divisive. To truly follow Christ will put us at odds with anyone who does not want to follow Him. This is an issue within the Church itself. There will always be falsehood and hypocrisy among those who claim the name of Jesus. The Lord, Himself, tells us in Matthew 18:17 to treat the unrepentant brother as a tax collector or an outsider. Paul’s admonitions to Timothy and Titus speak to all pastors about the importance of protecting the flock from deception and error, of refuting falsehood, of rooting out false prophets, etc. (See 1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3; Titus 1:9; and elsewhere.) A pastor has a great responsibility to care for his flock. At times, this will mean expelling some or separating from others. The end result of such things is very often division within the Church, new churches, new denominations.
However, we also have Paul’s constant calls for unity within the Body, John’s exhortations to love and Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares.
"Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers,
'First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.'" (Matthew 13:30)
And He answered and said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the
world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:37-42)
This parable makes it abundantly clear that we are not equipped to root out all false brethren, the tares. If we try, we will uproot and reject many who are not evil but are themselves followers of Christ. This work will be done only at the end of the age and by God and His angels, not by us.
Where such divisions have already occurred, it would seem that the Lord wants us to come together again, in Him. Many have acknowledged this and have sought to do so, but it often seems hopeless despite our best efforts. There is a constant tension between pastoral care and protection and the risk of embracing those who have different theology. We need the supernatural gifts of koinonia, knowledge and wisdom to resolve this tension.
From this more “legitimate” dividing within the Body, we turn to all the division that is simply the result of sin—jealousy, pride, hatred, self-love, power-lust, and so forth. We look around us and see these sins rampant in the Church. We look at ourselves and we see the seed of these sins in our own hearts.
So how do we overcome this sin, this division that results from sin and the division that results from our efforts to protect and preserve? My own experience is that the most reliable place to turn is to the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin, who convicts us and our leaders of sin (John 16:7-8). It is the Holy Spirit who bears fruit in our lives that blesses each other and draws us to one another (Galatians 5:22-23). It is the Holy Spirit who pours the love of God into our hearts so that it then overflows as a stream of living water to those around us (Rom. 5:5 and John 7:38-39). It is the Holy Spirit who brings about true kononia among God’s people, drawing them to commit completely to one another, to love and forgive one another (1 Peter 4:8).
I have seen this work. As I indicated above, of all the various efforts to bring unity within the Church, the single most effective that I know of is to bring men and women together in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we conduct our Dunamis seminars, we always have small groups. I have seen some of the deepest relationships of love, trust and respect develop among church leaders from different denominations—even denominations that oppose each other--within these groups, by the work of the Holy Spirit.
We need the Holy Spirit within us to change our hearts and bring us into love with one another. We need the Holy Spirit upon us giving us gifts that help us discern together and reveal the tactics of the Enemy. We need the Holy Spirit among us bringing koinonia, forming us into one body and enabling us to work together for the Kingdom of God.
We will explore this point of working together further next week as we look at the Holy Spirit forming us into teams.
© Ben Torrey, 2016. All rights reserved