Monday, December 12, 2011

Terry Virgo at CLC: The Spirit Filled Church

Over the weekend, I was reminded again why I was deeply affected by the ministry of Terry Virgo. On Sunday he spoke on the subject, "The Spirit Filled Church".

He began by laying the foundation. We believe in the word of God, but we also see the importance of empowerment by the Holy Spirit. Terry covered John 13:33-John 14:20. The real them of this message was presence... God's continuing presence with His people.

He began by talking about how God revealed Himself in the past. The Lord arrested Moses' attention with the burning bush. This was his commissioning. Later the Lord revealed Himself to all 2 million of the Israelites who came out of Egypt. They heard thunder and saw lightning and smoke. Most importantly they heard the voice of God.

In the face of rebellion, the Lord threatened to withdraw. But Moses made it clear: if your presence doesn't go with us, don't send us from here.

Later the Lord expressed a desire to dwell among His people. A tent was established for this purpose. And once in place, the glory of the Lord filled it! In fact in all their travels, the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day and fire in the cloud by night.

Temporary Tabernacle

In the New Testament, the Lord revealed Himself through Jesus. John's gospel says "Word became flesh and we beheld his glory". The word means that he "tabernacled himself". D.A. Carson says he "pitched his tent among us." Life was manifested. We handled and touched. He made himself known. That's what exegesis is.

In Hebrews 1 learn that now Jesus is now the way the Father speaks to us. Jesus is the radiance of his glory. He is the exact image of His nature.

Terry reflected back to the time when Israel turned from God. The Lord through Malachi expressed his displeasure, "Oh that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you says the Lord Almighty, and I will accept no offering from your hands." Malachi 1:10 NIV

Paul writes that we do not preach ourselves. Jesus did. He said
I am the way
I am the door
I am the Good Shepherd

And when Jesus chose 12, he selected them to be with him.

Too often Christianity is portrayed as going to meetings, staying away from certain places,etc. To be a Christian is to be with Jesus!

Terry also targeted the "Hollywood Jesus" we often see, a man who looks rather sickly.

By contrast, he reminded us of the time Jesus spent on the mountain with the multitudes for 3 days. The word says there was not a sick person among them. After 3 days, Jesus gave the command to feed them. Jesus called them out of their limitations.

At the transfiguration, his life was manifested and the disciples said "we beheld his glory". But he warned that would only be with them a little longer

Devastating Departure

So the disciples left everything. For what? To go to church? No, to be with him. Being with Jesus was what it was all about. By contrast the Pharisees offered "God in a box". In fact when Jesus healed on the Sabbath and then extended forgiveness, the Pharisees were outraged. Their true message was "if you want forgiveness, we run the temple. you need to come to us." Jesus freely offered forgivenss.

Permanent Presence

Terry talked about how too often Christians present Christianity as a fading memory of what it was like "back in the day". We are a people who gather to his presence. He spoke about John 14, 15, and 16 where the Lord lays out the doctrine of the trinity, and the prophecy that the the Spirit would be in them. Jesus will come again, this time in the form of the Holy Spirit to indwell them.

Terry reminded us of Mary's visit to the tomb. She wanted to be with him. She couldn't live without him. And though he told her "don't hold me", he later promised he would not leave us orphans.

It is hear Terry suggested that in our emphasis on the second coming, we miss the reality of his presence today. Henrickson says of Jesus "in the Spirit, I myself and coming back." In fact, at Pentecost they could have proclaimed "he's back!" They received the spirit of the Son and were pulled into sonship. Again, they weren't memorializing the Jesus that used to be with them. They gathered to his presence. Now we live with him.

As a result we don't have to go wash in the Ganges, say 20 hail Marys,etc. We are with Jesus. "I want to know him." That is the essence of Christianity.

Terry continued, "do I have to say my prayers?" That is the wrong question. Once the spirit works in us, we will want to pray because we want to see the work of his power!

So what's the impact of the Lord coming back in the Holy Spirit? The people thought they killed Jesus and were sure He was gone. Now, in Acts he reappears. He appears with Peter as he approaches the temple and is able to say to the lame beggar, "silver and gold i have none, but what I do have I give to you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
Jesus used to be the Body of Christ... now WE are! This is not about a management team but a body!

So Jesus is with Peter. And he's with Paul in Corinth. Paul later says "the Lord stood by me".

Terry began wrapping up by exhorting us to press into Him. We are a spirit filled church. And he questioned whether Jesus had a different meaning behind John 14. We often think of Jesus preparing mansions for us to enter after we die. Jesus told them He was leaving to prepare a place and will come again. Could it be that he was referring to the Holy Spirit coming? He promised to receive us, so that where He is, we will be also.

The church was crucified with Jesus
The church was raised with Jesus
The church was seated with Jesus in heavenly places
All so that where He is we may be also.

So now we can proclaim, every day Jesus you are my dwelling place.
Colossians 3 says we are raised with Christ. We have died with Christ and our life is hidden with Christ in God. In Revelation, John was in the spirit and saw a throne. We should anticipate more fellowship with the Holy Spirit. The disciples could not bear a day being without Jesus.

Christianity is not about rules regulations and meetings.
Its about Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. It is what makes us distinct. In our midst a lot can happen. Now when you meet the living Church, you meet the living Jesus! Eternal life is knowing him. (John 17:3)

Simply reading this does not do this message justice. Listen for yourself. And I will look forward to hearing how the Lord speaks to and impacts you.

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