Introduction | Spirit-Filled Church Life Group Series
What is the most urgent need of the church in London today? Is it integrity and generosity with our finances? Is it social action amongst the urban poor? Is it disciplined Biblical thinking: more Bible colleges and expository preaching? Or is it evangelism and church planting? We put it to you that it is none of these. Controversial we know. Please don’t misunderstand us, we do believe that they are all important but surely our most urgent need today is for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Is there a sense of dissatisfaction in your life? A longing for greater intimacy with God, greater love for God, greater freedom from stronghold sin issues in your life, greater power to serve, unction and boldness to share the gospel, courage to prophesy and bravely offer to heal the sick? Or perhaps you feel weary? Worn out? Discouraged? Evangelistically ineffective or unfruitful?
What you and I need most is the filling of the Holy Spirit. We need His purifying power (1 Corinthians 6:11). We need His fortifying presence (John 14:6). We need Him to reveal God’s great love for us (Romans 5:5), to open our eyes and teach us who we are in Christ (John 16:13), to fill us with His love for the lost, and empower us for mission (Acts 1:8).
What is the most urgent need of the church in London today? The fullness of our relational God in the third person of the Trinity in our lives and community (not an impersonal force like electricity as some Christian cults teach).
We need to drink deep of the “living water” of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). We need to be “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 7:15-16; 9:17; 10:44; 13:9; 19:6) and go on being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) like a drunk who can’t help himself as he reaches for the bottle again, and again, and again.
To quote Martin Lloyd-Jones, the former minister of our church:
“If your doctrine of the Holy Spirit does not include this idea of the Holy Spirit falling upon people, it is seriously, grievously defective. This, it seems to me, has been the trouble especially during the present century, indeed almost for a hundred years. The whole notion of the Holy Spirit falling upon people has been discountenanced and discouraged…surely one of the prime explanations of the present state of the Christian Church.” (Joy Unspeakable, 1984).
If Westminster Chapel (and the church in London) is to “shake London” and have its galleries “filled to overflowing” with all kinds of people transformed by the gospel (as has been prophesied) we must become a Spirit-intoxicated church.
The church in Ephesus is a wonderful example and encouragement to us in this regard. That’s why in our Life Groups we’ll be going through six sessions studying the Holy Spirit in Ephesians (alongside preaching through the whole letter at our AM service). Paul and just a handful of disciples filled with the Holy Spirit multiplied to cause a holy riot in a city not dissimilar to London. The gospel was proclaimed boldly. Extraordinary miracles were performed. Stronghold sin issues in people’s lives came crashing down, “as the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (Acts 19:20)
Taking time to study this church’s origins alongside the accompanying letter Paul sent to this radical community, Ephesians, which is filled with invaluable teaching on the person of the Holy Spirit, is more than simply a worthwhile activity. Our prayer is that these studies will be a catalyst for a similar, perhaps even greater reaction in London than there was in Ephesus; may the whole of London be in “uproar” (Acts 19:29) as we become the Spirit-filled church God has called us to be, bringing the kingdom of God to the heart of the nation.