Summary: The tension between the flesh and the Spirit is tremendous. Too often human pride and independence crowd God's Holy Spirit to the margins of daily thought and action. Unity and evangelism should be the hallmark of our churches today.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN
Someone has said, “You will never truly know the power of God until you need the power of God.” I think that statement equally applies to God’s Holy Spirit. As we mentioned earlier in this series, too often Christians and churches do not seek nor even rely on God’s Spirit in daily living.
American independence has taught us to “do it yourself” and then if you encounter problems ask for help. But, that is not God’s plan nor preference.
Also, our restoration heritage, with men like Alexander Campbell and his Baconian rationalism has steeped us in mentally formulating our rules of thinking. Since Campbell’s death, our fellowship has largely followed tradition at the expense of seeking the heart of Christ in our thinking and actions.
Barton W. Stone, a pioneer in the American Restoration Movement, believed in and was led more by the Holy Spirit than any other person, I suppose. The Cane Ridge meeting was a Communion like no other. On Friday, August 6, 1801 an estimated 20,000 people rode or walked into the remote outpost of Cane Ridge, KY. Men, women and children moved from one preaching venue to another, watching, praying, preaching, weeping, groaning, and falling. Though some stood at the edges and mocked, most left marveling at the wondrous hand of God.
The Cane Ridge Communion quickly became one of the best-reported events in American history, and according to Vanderbilt historian Paul Conkin, “arguably … the most important religious gathering in all of American history.” It ignited the explosion of evangelical religion, which soon reached into nearly every corner of American life. For decades the prayer of camp meetings and revivals across the land was “Lord, make it like Cane Ridge .”
The unusual events of Cane Ridge fanned the flames of what was known in America as the Great Awakening. What was it about Cane Ridge that gripped the imagination? Exactly what happened? . . . Europeans visiting the American wilderness and encountering a revival firsthand were convinced that Americans had gone mad. But the excitement was evident far beyond the emotional fervor of the camp meetings.
For a brief period from 1832-1849 there was both an appeal for unity and an effort to have unity between all religious beliefs. There was an increased interest in the Bible, evangelism and conversion. However, the appeal for unity led to heated debates and schisms. Disagreements become so sharp that divisions occurred down party lines and creeds became more important that the appeal to God’s Word.
In recent days, water-boarding is back in the news. I find it interesting that a form of this was used in the early days of religion in this country. Here is a picture of what happened to those who disagreed with another parties views.
In the very appeal for and attempt at unity, religious denomination flourished and unity and the Holy Spirit got pushed to the outer margins of religious thought and practice.