Eight Marks of The Church: Mark 1 - Spirit Filled
Eight (8) Myths, Marks & Metaphors of The Church
Myth # 1: The Church is all the people that show up on Sunday or are on the membership role or mailing list of the Church.
The idea undergirding this myth is the notion that "if I'm there, I must be in." If I show up at least two Sunday's a month, if my name is printed in the church directory, if I receive the online bulletin through the church email server, if I drop a check in the offering tower, if I go to church events, if I serve in some way in the church, if I'm on a team or committee in the church, if I hang out with people between Sundays, if I check off all the boxes on the church doctrinal statement, if my web browser homepage defaults to the church website, then I'm in - I'm part of the Church.
This myth is dangerous because if believed it can lead to one of two outcomes:
- It can cause people to think they’re part of the church when they’re not, just because they show up, even often, and are involved to some degree in the programs of the Church.
- It can cause the church to be more concerned about how many people are there instead of how many people there really know Jesus, contributing further to the myth itself.
The Reformers saw that people in their day were believing this myth. As a result, they used terms Visible Church and Invisible Church to describe this dichotomy between people who think they're in and are out and people who think they're in and are really in. The Visible Church is made up of all those people that show up on Sunday or to church events, regardless if they've been regenerated and filled with the Holy Spirit of God. The Invisible Church is made up of all those people that show up on Sunday or to church events and have been regenerated by and filled with the Holy Spirit of God. In making this distinction, the Reformers saw that the first mark of the real Church, those who are truly part of Christ's Church, is that they're Spirit Filled.
Mark 1: Spirit Filled
Peter affirmed this truth in his first sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39). The Jews of his day had lived their lives in deep religiosity, but deep hypocrisy. They had their names on the church roster of their day. They made all the meetings, kept all the cultural rules, said all the right things, hung out with the right people, looked good on the outside, but they had nothing on the inside, no Spirit of God indwelling them. Peter said if they repented of their religion and turned to Jesus, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit - that God Himself would change them and indwell them.
Paul later told Titus that Jesus "saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5)."
- Regeneration - God gives us a new heart, a desire to know Him, a desire to respond to His call, a desire to 'chose' Him.
- Renewal of the Holy Spirit - God renews our hearts, indwells our hearts, and empowers us to live according to His heart.
Metaphor 1: Temple of God (The place where God’s presence dwells)
For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ – 2 Corinthians 6:16
The New Testament gives us a great metaphor to understand this in a simple way. Paul says that we are the 'temple of the living God.' That is, just like the Temple in the Old Testament was the place God dwelt in glory, now we are the place God dwells in glory. God's glory is not just seen or known in one place, but in every person who is regenerated by and filled with His Holy Spirit - every person that is truly part of His Church.
There is a simple way you can know if you are regenerated by and filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Paul told the Galatians that they would know that they were walking in the Truth, that they had believed and received the true Gospel, that they were filled with the Spirit as the Fruits of The Spirit were increasingly evident in their lives (Galatians 5:22-23). If they were still living without the Spirit of God, their lives would look entirely different (Galatians 5:16-21).
Are the fruits of the Spirit evident and increasing in your life?