Saturday, March 26, 2016

Prayer Over the Invited

I invited a friend to the gathering of the Church for this upcoming Lord’s Day. As I’ve been praying about this invitation, I’ve been letting a meditation on 1 Corinthians 14:24,25 guide me. The Holy Spirit inspired these words, and it is through Him that I am praying, so it seems appropriate that Spirit and truth be one in my prayer life.

“But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”

All prophesy.” On the day of Pentecost (50 days from the day I am writing this), the Spirit fell on the believers who were waiting in obedience to Christ’s command. This group included “Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James…along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers…a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together” (Acts 1:13-15). All of these, when filled with the Spirit, began to speak “of the mighty deeds of God” (2:11). Peter, explaining to the crowds what was happening, declares that the Spirit-given speech about God’s great works fulfilled Joel’s prophecy: “I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy...on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17,18//Joel 2:28,29). The whole of the congregation of the Spirit-filled will “prophesy,” which is defined by the events of Pentecost as speaking “of the mighty deeds of God” by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not just the work of a single man behind the pulpit. It is a witness (from the Bible) that all God’s people may do. Our speech should be of God.

It happens at the Table: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

It happens in songs that speak of God’s work in salvation: “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:18,19).

It happens when God’s people read aloud and pray the Scriptures: “And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, ‘O Lord, it is You Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them [Psalm 146:6], Who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said [Acts 2:1,2], “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.” For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, Whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your Word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:23-31).

May it happen with all the words we say!

The unbelieving guest in the Corinthian gathering confesses “God is certainly among you." He is brought to conviction by the proclamation of the truth of the Scripture by the Spirit-filled people of God. Do I want him to feel welcomed and loved by the congregation? Absolutely! But I also want him (and everyone else) to come away changed unto eternal life in Jesus Christ. We lift up the Word, and the Spirit can do that. Conviction. Confession. Life, life, eternal life!

"Pentecost," by Ed Friedlander
This is my prayer: May God the Holy Spirit make His Word known through all aspects of the gathering of the people of God in Christ, that unbelievers may be convicted and brought to salvation in Jesus Christ for the ultimate purpose of falling on their faces and worshiping God not just in the gathering, but forever and ever in glory. “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Speak, Spirit of Christ. Please, speak.

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