Monday, July 23, 2012

1st Clement 2 - An Outporing of Power

While Clement continued to congratulate the Corinthians on their individual piety and their corporate character, he offers this interesting comment.
"Thus a profound and abundant peace was given to you all, and ye had an insatiable desire for doing good, while a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit was upon you all." (1 Clement 2)
 The Corinthian church was notable in that they were able to experience both the blessings of Christian community and the excitement of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the same time. Paul himself commented on this in his first letter when he wrote.
"I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
 Paul notes that the Corinthian church lacked in no speech, knowledge, or any other spiritual gift. The supernatural power of God was flowing freely though their mist, and yet they continued to also experience a community life that was characterized by the piety and pure religion of the individuals who made up the church.

Today, such a combination seems rate to me, at least amongst the church I have had the privilege to visit or attend; either they have community, power, or neither, but rarely both. Many have offered various reasons for this but most of the reasons are in fact problems of our own making. So what is the key or secret to having a church that has both community and power? I think part of the answer is in what Paul also wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian church.
"Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy." (1 Corinthians 14:1)
 We are to earnestly desire, be zealous for, spiritual gifts while we pursue love. Some have asked, "if you could choose character or power which would you choose?" However, this is a false question. We can only chose character; to chose to pursue love. An outpouring of the Holy Spirit is some thing that God gives, not something we chose for ourselves. Speaking of spiritual gifts, Paul says, "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills." (1 Corinthians 12:11)

So what are we to do? We are to eagerly desire God's outpouring; to believe for it, to ask for it, to make room for it, and to be careful not to quench it, and all the while we are to be pursuing love one with another and the sanctification of our souls which is from God. Desire one, pursue the other, and accept with gratitude what ever is given to us from the hand of God.

David Robison

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