The Spirit and the Word: What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Divide -- By: Rick Ritchie

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 03:2 (Spring 1994)
Article: The Spirit and the Word: What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Divide
Author: Rick Ritchie


The Spirit and the Word: What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Divide

Rick Ritchie

“Luther Bible babble bubble,” said Thomas Muntzer in derision of Martin Luther.

If Muntzer were alive today, his church would have a dove on its front wall. Or, more likely, no ornament; he would be too busy running “signs and wonders” conferences to worry about a building. Thomas Muntzer was pleased that Luther had unshackled the church from papal authority. He just felt that Luther had stopped too soon. Not just papal authority, but biblical authority itself needed to be loosened. If biblical authority were undermined, the church would be open to the direct working of God in the present day. Sola scriptura? Scripture alone? Luther Bible babble bubble.

The charge that today’s Reformation churches are dead because of their lack of emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit is as old as the Reformation itself. And so is one Reformation answer—Luther’s: “Muntzer, I wouldn’t believe you if you swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all!”

Most modern-day evangelicals do not want to swallow feathers so much as ruffle them. Surveying orthodox congregations that appear to be lifeless, they believe that the Holy Spirit is the missing ingredient in church life. Perhaps they have good reason to believe this.

Any thoughtful Christian, when challenged, will agree that a church without the Holy Spirit is a dead church. Moreover, he or she wants to be a member of a living church. We all want to attend churches where the Holy Spirit is active. Who among us would purposely join a church in which the Holy Spirit was absent? The Holy Spirit’s presence is surely on every true church’s “Must Have” list.

When we recognize our need of the Holy Spirit, the first question that comes to mind is “How can we get the Holy Spirit to be active in our church?” This question is not peculiar to the charismatic movement. Christians in Reformation

churches ask it as well. The great divide is in how the question is answered by the various churches.

The Holy Spirit As a Power Source

Before we ask how we can get the Holy Spirit active in our church, we need to know what the ministry of the Holy Spirit is. Wrong pictures of the work of the Holy Spirit lead to wrong methods of seeking the Holy Spirit. They lead us to accept as normal much that we would otherwise reject just because it fits with our preconceived notions. They also cause us to miss noticing those manifestations of the Spirit that do not conform to our misguided expectations.

If our primary picture of the Holy Sp...

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