Church on Fire
Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014Print
About Prophetic Writings Series
This series is a collection of Martha's prophetic words on a range of topics, such as solitude, false salvation, zeal for the church, the Fatherhood of God, and the power of silence.
Many today would agree that the church is without fire. Numbers want fire but they mean the fire of zeal, devotion or evangelism. Feeling good and falling down. La-la land and visions of paradise. I love those too, but is there something better? The fire of Christ Himself?
Jesus spoke of casting fire upon the earth in Luke 12 and Matthew 10. “I came to send fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled!” He spoke then of His own personal fire: “a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!”
Jesus brings fire. His presence creates fire. Here is His kind of fire, promised and delivered:
Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.
Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother. Mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Luke 12:51-53 NKJV
He came for the express purpose, the deliberate intent (do you understand?) of setting the world on fire, an arson of mankind, a torch to relationships until all of our connections exist only for Him. No fire of division? Perhaps no Presence of the Son of God. The disciples who trembled and ran before Pentecost, were transformed into the terrifying apostles of Acts.
Stephen was stoned because of the scorching blast of his long sermon, recounting the sins of the forefathers. He ended by saying,
“You stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your father not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers.”
Acts 7:51-52 NKJV
This was the level of Stephen’s loyalty, clarity and zeal for God. Those who heard him were “cut to the heart” but turned with rage and stoned him to death. It was said of Stephen that he was full of grace and power. Full of the Holy Spirit! We don’t know this Holy Spirit.
This is a picture of a man filled with God? How shocking! One who preaches with so much condemnation for the audience that he is stoned for it? Ah, we would stone him also today and call him unloving and unchristian. We know no such passion today! Because we possess no such vivid loyalty! Paul said, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed” (I Cor. 16:22). A curse? But Christians aren’t supposed to curse people! Are they?
The following account in Acts 13 is not the kind of fire we want:
…The proconsul, Sergius Paulas, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”
And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord (verses 7-12 NKJV).
To strike a man blind by the Holy Spirit? We know nothing of this kind of uncompromising fidelity to God, this brand of unblinking courage, this confidence in the Indwelling Spirit. We are altogether too fleshly kind, too sickeningly afraid of people, and we call it Christian love! That is our excuse for cowardice and faithlessness.
I submit that we have not seen first century power because we will not accept first century absolutism!
We tolerate evil and opposition and let the gospel be trampled and the lost slip into hell. We live an insipid, non-confrontational Christianity, and that is why the world is stomping down our values, taking prayer out of schools and stealing our converts. We are powerless because we are gutless. We won’t confront the evil in our personal midst, under our own nose. We want a popularity that those first century believers scorned and understood was impossible in this life. We hate being “talked about” and will sell out on God before we will ever consent to being even slightly misunderstood.
The problem is not a lack of zeal. Nor is courage the need. The problem is a failure to love God enough to lose anything from reputations to dreams…the absence of a passion for Him that would toss your precious life away for just one remote sermon, fully delivered and worth dying for! Stephen was full of the Spirit because he loved his God more than he loved life or self or safety…
The church will never know full-blazing-fire-of-devotion until “she” accepts the fire of purification.
Martha Blaney Kilpatrick
I preach to myself. Thank you for listening in.
Copyright © 2000 Martha Blaney Kilpatrick, Prophetic Writings