Church in Many Houses read through Ch.12

Chapter 12: Only the Spirit Gives Life

Summary:Without the work of the Spirit, no structure, program, or style will change anyone.

“To focus exclusively on cell structure and philosophy is to build the fire-place without starting the fire. A spiritually dead church does not spring to life simply because it is organized as a cell church.” (Location: 1,993)

Note:This is true.

“I have learned that whenever my energy and attention to structural issues rises higher than my attention to matters of the spirit and the heart, I have crossed over into self-reliance.” (Location: 2,015)

Note:This is very convicting.

“The most attractive part of a cell meeting is not the Bible application discussion or even the sharing of our personal stories; it is the presence of Christ. When people experience the nearness of the risen Lord in our cell meetings, we will not have to cajole them into attending the following week. Christ’s presence will accomplish more than we can imagine.” (Location: 2,048)

Note:This is a crucial concept. I am not sure what the author specifically means by this, given his charismatic slant, however there is truth here. Individually, believers are indwelt by the Spirit. Corporately, as the Body of Christ, we are together a temple for the Spirit. So when we are together there is a real sense that Christ is in our midst – his presence mediated by his Spirit. When I can recognize that, there is a change that I can see in myself.

“Of course, we know that Christ will be present whenever we gather. After all, he promised, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt 18:20 NIV) Although Christ will be present, we need to welcome Him. Two ways to open the door of the group to God’s presence are worship and prayer.” (Location: 2,053)

Note:Will he not demonstrate his presence if we don’t properly “welcome” him? It would seem as though the author is suggesting that we somehow control God’s presence. God has no obligation to fulfill my requests. However, we do have the promise of his presence through the Holy Spirit. And it is also true that we will not recognize his presence if we are not, according to Paul, “filled with the Spirit,” or “walking in the Spirit.” But I do not think we want to follow the reasoning of special actions by which we invite him in.