In this eighth and final post in the current series, I intend to wrap things up by summarising a little and by dealing briefly with the last three items on my original list of indicators of and responses to the presence of God.
Right up front, I stated that in this series I would limit myself to the manifest presence of God in our corporate church meetings. The church is more than its Sunday gatherings, but these worship services are a focal point of its life.
I posed the question, “How do we know if ‘the Lord is in the house’? What are the indicators of His presence?” In response, I identified the following indicators:
The Nine Indicators
- Reverent and adoring worship
- Passionate prayer
- Serious attention to biblical preaching
- An attitude of faith
- Ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit
- Anointed leadership
- Expressions of love
- An impartation of life and wholeness
- A desire to share the presence of God with others
Over the last four months, I have written successively about worship, prayer, preaching, faith, ministry, and leadership. Now, as I consider the last three on the list, I appreciate that they do not stand alone, but rather form part of each of the preceding six.
Here are the final 3:
Expressions of Love
Jesus gave love as a defining mark of His church. His best-known statement is in John 13:34-35, which records Jesus as saying; “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
I don’t want to differentiate between brotherly love and self-sacrificing love, but it must be reasonably obvious that love, in one form or another, is the binding agent in a corporate gathering of the church. We worship together because we love God and we love each other enough to want to join with each other in worship to the Lord. Similarly, prayer flows from a love of God and corporate prayer includes a love for each other, of being of one mind and contributing to a group expression of prayer. Biblical preaching, from the preacher’s perspective, is based on a love for God and His Words as well as a love for the people strong enough to motivate him/her to extensive, time-consuming preparation.
Faith is a little different from the other indicators, but we cannot separate faith from love; we have faith in the God we love or we have no biblical faith at all.
Ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit would just be a self-serving sham if it did not flow out of a desire to bless others with the Gifts of the Spirit. Lastly, anointed leadership is, in essence, a service of love for God and His people and if it does not issue from this then it is just a disgraceful display of ego and manipulation.
An Impartation of Life and Wholeness
When we preach, minister, or lead, we do it from a desire to impart life and wholeness to others. Once again, if this is not an underlying motive then these are self-serving shams.
Love is the essential source of imparting life; love of God and love for fellow members of His family.
When I teach young preachers, I make a point of ensuring that they understand that the purpose of a sermon is more than just informing, persuading, or motivating. In addition to these, it is to impart life to the hearers. A sermon should not simply entertain or educate, it should impart a life-changing message laden with the anointing power of the Holy Spirit.
I remember so well my first experience of receiving a powerful infilling by and from the Holy Spirit, and how for several minutes after this experience I stood with my hands cupped in front of me. It seemed in my spirit-charged imagination that God had poured a precious liquid into my hands and that I needed to carry it carefully, without spilling any, until I could give it to someone in need.
A desire to Share the Presence of God with Others
To love is to want to give, be it to God or others. Love is best seen in outward actions. We give money to the church, family, and those in need because we care deeply for them and we only give our time and attention freely to things and people we love.
Now the most valuable thing we have is our eternal relationship with Jesus. So, because we care, we seek to share this with others.
We, in many church circles, have tended to regard witnessing and evangelising as the source merit for duty performed. If we are ‘driven’ to speak out the Gospel from a sense of religious duty, or guilt, or a desire for recognition by our church leaders, then we have missed the point entirely. Surely, we share the Gospel because we love who the Gospel is all about and we care enough for others to want to share this love with them? Why then do we need tracts, methodologies, and training sessions?!
From the Church Service to the World
I have focused on what happens in a Sunday service, but this gathering cannot contain our life-in-Christ. If this life is true to both its definition and its source, then it needs to be shared outside of the church meetings. When the final “amen” sounds and the worship group sing one last song, the people who constitute the ‘church’ spill out into the world to share their love, their faith, and their hope. The Sunday service is when the local family of God come together to worship, pray, learn, minister and build each other up. Monday through Saturday is when that family, the local church, do what Jesus instructed when He said;
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”. (Mark 16:15 ESV)
I hope you have benefited in some way from this series and that you will keep watching this space for what is to come. Better still, subscribe to the site and we will e-mail you with each new post.