WHAT MAKES A CHURCH “SPIRIT FILLED”?

I CORINTHIANS 14:12: “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church…”

I CORINTHIANS 14:26: “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up…

I CORINTHIANS 14:33: “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,…

I CORINTHIANS 14:37-40: “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.” (‭ESV)

OBSERVATION: What is the definition of a “spirit filled” church? The term is used in so many ways. For everyone it means something different, unless we allow the Scriptures alone to define it. Many interpret it as a style or expression of worship. If the music is lively and those who worship are outwardly expressive on may conclude – “This is a spirit filled church.” If there are manifestations of speaking in tongues and other gifts of the Spirit others may conclude – “This is spirit filled church.” If there is sound teaching of the Scriptures another may conclude – “This is a spirit filled church.” Which is it?

It is really “all of the above”. To be honest, the question is a bit misleading. All churches that are comprised of Born Again believers are “spirit filled” churches. Why? Because the Spirit of God indwells the hearts of believers, all believers. Paul was clear on this point when he wrote – “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭3‬ ESV)  So in essence there is really no distinction between worship, style, gifts, or teaching that defines a church as “spirit filled”. A church is “spirit filled” simply because it is the gathering together of those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and transformed by the inner regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

The better question to ask is – “Is our church acting like it is spirit filled?” Are we exhibiting the fruit of what we truly are called to be. Here is where we once again get confused. It has nothing to do with worship, style, gifts, or teaching. It has everything to do with purpose and practice. What is the purpose for the things that we do when we gather together? Is it to demonstrate that we have “the gift”, or is it to build up and edify the body of believers? It is to be “seen”, or to see the One who is high and lifted up? Is it to express our faith and gifts the way “we want to”, or is it to discover what the Spirit is directing us to do? Is it to be “free” or is it to do things “decently and in order”?

The true signposts of a “spirit filled” church (the call of all churches) are –

* To excel in building up the church…

* To submit each one’s personal gifting(s) and expression to the overall benefit of the church…

* To foster an atmosphere of peace

* To do all things decently and in order

This calling goes beyond all denominational boundaries, beyond all worship styles and expressions, beyond all doctrinal distinctions. This calling is to all those who name the name of Jesus Christ and gather together as the church. Paul was very clear – “If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” Does this mean that Paul did not recognize them, or could it mean that when we are not acting like truly “spirit filled” believers the very things we are doing may not be recognized by God? This is something to ponder and consider.

Lord, may I truly and earnestly seek Your spiritual gifts and manifestations for the church. However, as I do, may my purpose and practice always be to glorify my Lord Jesus Christ and to build up and edify the church. In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is pastor of The Fellowship at Weatherford, a Foursquare Church in Weatherford, Texas. He has developed an easy to follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information please send an email to klzehnder@aol.com
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