This is the Second part of the series “The Holy Spirit – Who Is He?”
Have you ever wondered why the period from around 500AD to 1350 and the start of the Renaissance is referred to as The Dark Ages? More significantly, why the church, which had begun with such demonstration of the power and wonder of God, failed to continue that vigour; only to fall into a a pit of what can only be described as dead religion.
An empire built on the bones and despair and political determination of men determined to secure themselves a lifestyle of comfort and pleasure. A culture much akin to the rulers of the temple and the religious men of the day, when Christ walked upon the earth. Men whom he referred to as “Whitewashed tombs full of dead mens bones.” Men he declared had “Made the Covenant of God of No Effect.”
All of Europe is filled with great palaces and cathedrals constructed with every last penny that clerics could secure, by one means, or another from the rich, who wanted to buy their way in the securing of a place in Heaven. Or, by demanding that the poor remember that the church was their only source of succour; that God had made them for this station in life as a purgative way to enter the pearly gates. The introduction of indulgences and penance discriminated very little.
Few would be saved and even that was not guaranteed. Hell was an ever present threat, by which the masses were to be controlled.Politics and the courting of princes became the mainstay of the church. No monarch could be named King, or Queen, without the ascent of Rome.
A dead Christ was ever before the face of the congregants. How could anyone nailed to a tree do anything to help your lot in this life. What was worse, was that every sin was another blow of the hammer upon those nails. Or another stroke of the lash upon that Christ. The children of God were brought to the Cross and left there to mourn and wallow in the guilt and shame that it was they who had put Christ on that cross.
Then to cap it all off the written word of God to His people, was hidden away, in monasteries. Imprisoned, behind insurmountable walls. Retained for the eyes of the elite few who could both read and were educated to even begin to comprehend and for them to interpret.
That last action. The locking away of the scriptures from the ‘common man,’ was the snuffing of the only remaining candle. But still, God would not be mocked.
It would appear that the scarlet thread that flows throughout the Old Testament, from Rahab and Joshua. That remnant that God has always had there in reserve, like the prophets that had not bowed to Baal, when Elijah thought that he was the only one who remained faithful. God has always had those embers sitting quietly, waiting to burst into wildfire, throughout even this dark period of time.
God would move, by his Holy Spirit, upon a St Francis, in Assisi; St Tereasa in Avila. and many others scattered throughout history; keeping that wondrous hope, that God was still the wonder-working God of the Old and New Testaments. That the miraculous, as infrequent as it appeared, could still manifest.
With the advent of the printing press and the emergence of the protestant church the word of God began a course that would secure the ability of every person, in the western world, who wanted to read the bible access; through the combination of both availability and the education of the masses.
Resistance to this access was maintained, in some quarters, right up to the mid 20th century. It was David du Plessis (Mr Pentecost himself) who petitioned the then pope John XXIII to allow the people to read their bibles. Permission was given, but was not encouraged while priests maintained their hold on what waining authority they had over their congregants.
The rise of a new Pentecost in the US eventually flowed into the denominational churches and this “Charismatic Move” saw the emergence of many who had never even known if they owned a bible, as much as opened one. The stock standard excuse they had been fed that it was all a “Mystery” when questions couldn’t be answered became, suddenly, unsatisfactory and unacceptable.
There is a much deeper understanding of church history to be gained through a thorough study of that subject, if you are so inclined. Penguin produced a very accessible series of books that will provide a very handy reference to the avid historian. Suffice to say that it is the current move of the Holy Spirit that concerns us today.
The 20th century saw the revival of the miraculous, supernatural church in a world in dire need of miracles. The Azusa St Mission, in Los Angeles, became a famous centre of this revival and an attempt to once again live according to the written word of God.
The Healing revival swept the globe, the Jesus Movement gathered momentum and Evangelism became a common occourance in the marketplace and every street corner.
People were reading their bibles, under the inspiration of the very same Holy Ghost who had inspired their writing in the first place. It is important to remember that the concept of the things of God being mysteries is correct. But, we are told that these mysteries are not hidden from the children of God. But, rather, they are hidden FOR the children of God. And as Jesus said “it gives your Father great pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) and that “There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed (Luke 12:2).
in ICorinthians 12 Paul starts out declaring that he does not want the peolpe of God to be ignorant of Spiritual matters. In particular, in this chapter he discusses the nine public administrations of the Holy Spirit. But in all his writings he makes it very clear that the gateway to accessing anything of the Spirit of God and the Kingdom is through the individual and very personal gift of ‘Speaking with Other Tongues’ this is seperate to the public ministration.
Over the next few sessions we will delve further into these public gifts as well as looking at how the Holty Spirit, the Holy Ghost, is able to reveal to us the heart of the Father and make us more aware of the Kingdom of God that he desires to manifest.
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