The Question

“Does He who provides you with The Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of The Law or by hearing with faith?” Galatians 3:5

Paul’s question is one for the ages. It is a timeless inquiry that must be heard and answered by anyone at any time in history desiring to move beyond an introduction to Jesus, and into intimacy with Him.

Paul’s rhetorical question, must not go begging. “Hearing with faith” is the correct answer. Those who begin their journey of faith by hearing with faith must keep on listening to the voice of The Spirit. The clearest word from the Spirit comes from “taking up The Sword of The Spirit which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:17

The dilemma of most church leaders and their congregations is not laziness, but misguided energy. The church, ancient or contemporary, has always been in need of the miracle-working power of The Spirit of Christ. It is not a self-improvement society, but a self-crucifixion community. Believers put their faith in what they hear from The Word of God, not what they hear from conventional wisdom.

Note to self: Don’t forget the nails!

At any time in history, the church has produced no small amount of energy generated by the flesh in the pulpits and the pews. Today the contemporary church provides plenty of crowd-pleasing programs, and well -crafted purpose statements, but little power. The problem with the programs comes from leading people to spend more time in the work of the Lord, without inspiring people to spend their time with the Lord of the work. The life-changing power of the Spirit flows into the church, one faith-filled believer at a time.  The language of the Spirit is prayer, and those who desire intimacy with Jesus will learn to pray or they will live without The Spirit’s power.

Paul was intolerant of any whiff of the flesh in the church. Trusting The Law to improve on what God’s grace had finished would not happen on his watch.  The contemporary church must be no less diligent, and should take a page out of Paul’s prayer book.

The Galatians had begun to substitute self-improvement for the blood bought grace of God, purchased by the crucified Christ, and the miracle-working, life-changing power provided by The Spirit. They had not heard anything close to this kind of message from Paul, and he would have none of it fill the ears and bewitch the minds of the early church.  He wanted to know, “…who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” Gal. 3:1

Paul did not believe The Law was not evil. He knew it was a gift of God, and it had a purpose. The Law established the standard for anyone desiring to enter into worship with Holy God, perfection.

Jesus had unleashed his greatest scorn on those who sought to use their public obedience to The Law as a sign of their private holiness. They were not guilty of ignoring The Law. They were just guilty of falling short of God’s standard of perfection. Jesus knew they were not perfect, just pious posers.  He had a name for them? “Whited sepulchers.”

The greatest miracle Jesus ever performed was the transformation of a guilty sinner into a believing saint. His standards have never changed. Since the earliest days of His public ministry in Nazareth, Jesus has always marveled at those who are amazed that He can do a great work of healing, but refuse to receive His greatest work, forgiving.

“And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.” Mark 6: 5-6

Paul’s challenging question to the early church must not be ignored, by anyone interested in greater intimacy with Jesus. Hearing the Word of God requires a faith response, not a renewed effort of the flesh.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Romans 9:17

The Spirit of The Risen Christ must be welcomed into any conversation with the Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus is now seated at the right hand of The Father. The Spirit interprets even the slightest whisper of prayer to Jesus. Jesus intercedes on behalf of His followers, with The Father. Those seeking answers to prayer will be provided with God’s direction, protection and correction.

Intimacy with Jesus cannot be described. His Presence must be experienced. Prayer is the key to entering into The Presence of Jesus. Praying in The Spirit involves interceding for others and hearing and obeying God’s Word. Praying improves a prayer warrior’s hearing and obeying.

Prayer is not a vital sign of a person’s passion for self-improvement. Prayer must never become just another expression of the flesh posing as piety. Prayer is an admission of one’s helplessness. Those who become prayerful, discover The Helper is helpful, The Son is available, and The Father is able. The prayerless remain prideful.  TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!