In his book Word and Spirit, R.T. Kendall explains why the church needs both miracles and sound doctrine. In fact, the two are inseparable. However, as Kendall reveals, the church has somehow divorced the two.
There are those who live their spiritual lives by biblical explanation only, strong in doctrine and God's Word but opposed to demonstrations of the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, others base their theological dispositions on "signs and wonders" and not the Word. Both of these extremes have consequences.
Kendall writes on how churches devoted to the Word need the Holy Spirit to apply the Word. Anyone can read the Bible and hear sermons. But one needs the Holy Spirit for his or her heart to be truly changed. Kendall shows how this also applies to preaching:
"One would hope for unusual power every time one preaches. However, even the great apostle Paul was acutely aware that he might speak to people without the conscious enablement of the Spirit."
Paul prayed to be given words. To change hearts—to have your own heart changed—and to become more and more like Jesus, you need to be full of the Holy Spirit.
At the same time, Spirit churches also need to be reminded of their imbalance. Kendall says, "It is sadly true today that most Christians—whether liberal, evangelical or charismatic—do not know their Bibles."
Kendall uses the Galatian church as an example. The apostle Paul had to confront the church for its deviation from doctrine: "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3).
Despite being Spirit-filled, the Galatian church had become vulnerable to heresy. Kendall makes an important note:
"Paul does not question their conversions. There might be some today who would say that if the Galatians' conversions were genuine, they would not have been so quickly influenced by false teaching. Quite the contrary."
To have discernment, one needs to know God's Word. Understanding truth protects you from counterfeits.
It is for these reasons and many more that Kendall exhorts Christians to seek a balance in Word and Spirit. When that happens, Kendall predicts we will see a glorious last-days awakening.
Building on sermons he preached in 1992 when he pastored Westminster Chapel in London, England, Kendall prophetically describes a revival not based on feelings or emotions, but one inspired through the irrevocable truth of God's Word and fulfilled through the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Word and Spirit challenges readers to confront their traditions and rethink how they approach the Christian experience.
R.T. Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, England, for 25 years. Born in Ashland, Kentucky, he was educated at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Oxford University (D.Phil.). Dr. Kendall is the author of a number of books, including Total Forgiveness; Popular in Heaven, Famous in Hell; and his most recent, More of God.
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