“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference” – A.W. Tozer
What real difference does the Holy Spirit make in our lives? Those of us who are Christians would claim that it would make all the difference in the world. But does it really?
In Psalm 90, Moses described the Lord as a dwelling place, the metaphor communicates something special about the relationship, a permanence in quality. It is often difficult for us to imagine permanence in a transitional world. Everything around us is changing. But Moses cries out to God, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” The permanence of the relationship Moses describes is a product of the very nature of God. He does not change, evolve, or decay. A very different characteristic than those He creates and brings in and out of existence. In Psalm 90.3 Moses laments, “You turn people back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, you mortals.’ Do you see the contrast? God is from ‘everlasting to everlasting’ and we ‘return to dust.’ The quality of our existence determines the quantity of our days. But yet we live lives as if the Holy Spirit had no permanence. We live lives as if we are permanent and God is transitional. We have church as if our doctrines, words, and songs are eternal, when it is God who should be the author of our doctrine, the arbiter of our words, and the object of our songs of praise.
But church, too often, becomes another function of our idolatry. Remaking God in our own image.
Tozer is right when he observes that the New Testament church was much different than the twenty-first century church. They were reliant on the Holy Spirit. We are reliant on our systems. They were dependent on the Holy Spirit, and we are dependent on our talent. They trusted in the Holy Spirit, we trust in church growth practices.
What if God once again became our dwelling place? What if we were once again dependent on the Holy Spirit? How different would our churches be? How different would we become?