Acts 19:1–7 (ESV) — 1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
I read alarming statistics this week of what is going on in the “Church” in our nation. These statistics came from an organization called “Revival Outside the Walls” and cites various resources in their stats. Some of the statistics include:
- 56% Christians never read their Bible
- 69% of churchgoers believe everyone goes to heaven
- 56% believers do not believe that sharing their faith is an obligation
- 51% of evangelicals believe many faiths lead to God and eternal life
- 1 of 4 Americans believe the Bible is a story book
- 39% of Americans doubt that God exists
- 45% of people who go to church regularly are NOT saved
Josh McDowell says of the epidemic of pornography that is in the church: “Right at this moment, there’s never been anything in history that is destroying more churches, more pastors, more marriages, more young people, than pornography. As Chuck Swindoll said, ‘It’s the greatest cancer in the church.’ For me, it’s too late to say, ‘Well, give it time and let’s pray about it.’ Chuck Swindoll said that if we don’t move on it right now, it is too late to say we’ll pray about it and then wait.” Some of those stats include: (https://www.charismanews.com/culture/72072-this-is-destroying-more-churches-pastors-marriages-and-people-than-anything-in-history)
- At least 78.8 percent of all men that attend evangelical churches watch pornography.
- Probably 80 percent of all evangelical youth pastors also watch pornography, and now, the greatest increase is among women and young ladies.
- Sixty-four percent of all Christian families have an acute problem with pornography.
- Three out of five divorces now are directly related to pornography.
- Two out of five churchgoing men watch porn several times a week.
- About 80 percent of 15 to 17-year-olds have been exposed to hardcore porn.
- The adult pornography industry reports that 20-30 percent of their traffic comes from children.
- Half of all Christian families report that pornography is a problem.
- Over 40 percent of women and 60 percent of men are dealing with sexual addictions.
Porn Is Implicating Pastors. Pastors also struggle with pornography.
A study by Pure Desire Ministries revealed that over 50 percent of pastors regularly view pornography.
These statistics seem impossible to believe, but we are seeing these very issues in our own city. What if they are only 75% accurate or 50% accurate? They are still very alarming. Many people who come for counseling, whether spiritual or not, claim to be Christians and yet live inconsistent with the Word of God, and worse yet, do not even know what the Word of God says concerning how they are to live. A young man who came for spiritual counseling recently told me he uses drugs because it helps him get closer to God and hear His voice and this young man believes God is OK with this. By the way, he says he enjoys going to church and reading the Bible and has been in church all his life. Where is the disconnect?
Paul asked the twelve men of Ephesus if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed, and they said no. Paul then asked, “into what were you baptized?” and they stated John’s baptism. Paul then explains that John’s baptism was only a baptism of repentance which pointed people to Jesus, who was coming. A baptism of repentance does not impart life, but a baptism into Christ via Holy Spirit empowers life so we can not only regret our sins but reverse our sinful lifestyle. Most of the church, I believe, are much like the men of Ephesus who have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit and are living in an awareness of sin, but no power to overcome it. Believers are in a spiritual stupor and even if they know the Word of God, they do not have the power within them to partake of the divine life that leads to deliverance of sin. I believe it is not a Repentance problem we have but an Identification problem.
Many have head knowledge of Christ and are aware of sin, but many do not have an Identification of being “IN CHRIST”. It is IN CHRIST that we have access to the Holy Spirit. It is IN CHRIST that all the promises of God find their yes and amen! It is IN CHRIST that we are more than conquerors! It is IN CHRIST that we have all we need for life and godliness! We must Identify with Christ so that we can truly say “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)”
Acts 8:14-17 tells of Phillip evangelizing Samaria and on hearing of the conversion of the Samarians, the Apostles send Peter and John to Samaria. What was the purpose? It was to instruct the new believers into the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They had only been water baptized and the Apostles knew that even though water baptism was important in recognizing sin, they now needed a baptism that empowered the believers to live the crucified life. They needed Holy Spirit.
The church needs Holy Spirit today to empower it to represent the Christ of the Scriptures. The church needs Holy Spirit today to purify and set apart that which God has called out to represent Him. The Word of God does not promise us a problem free life. It actually promises the opposite:
- Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
- Proverbs 24:16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
- 1 Peter 4:12
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.
But the Word of God does promise us a victorious life:
- 1 Corinthians 15:57 —But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 John 5:4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.
- Romans 8:37 …no in all these things (trials) we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4) and it is the grace of God that empowers us to live victorious over the world by the Holy Spirit empowerment (Eph. 1:3; Acts 2:38).
The church has fallen asleep and misunderstands its purpose of equipping saints to do the work of ministry. Most think of works of ministry as being an usher, or a Sunday school teacher or working in the nursery. All of these are honorable and important tasks that need to be done by people who love God and people. But, we must get outside of the walls of the church to reach a world that will not be in church on Sunday. People walk in darkness and if the church itself is bound up in addictions such as drugs, alcohol, food, pornography, etc., where is the “salt and light” Jesus spoke of that brings change? Inside, we equip the saints to do the work of ministry and then send them out to bring light into a world filled with hate, darkness, pain, bondage and sin. We cannot win the world by looking and acting like the world. We have Identified with the World to appeal to the world…what a mistake this is. But we must Identify with Christ, who empowers us to bring life and light to dying people who are caught up in darkness.
Matthew 5:13–16 (NLT) — 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.