The Bare Soul - April 18, 2010
God's Piercing

Acts 2:37 - Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"

The conviction of God in a wholesale manner is a rare thing in western Christendom today. While we read instances of God's moving of His Spirit in the the Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively, most of us today have not witnessed a supernatural moving of God's Spirit over a large group of souls. John Wesley and George Whitefield would testify of wave after wave of conviction capturing the hearts of their hearers in the first Great Awakening of 18th century Britain. Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in the midst of pre-revolutionary war New England, which caused men and women to cling to the pillars of the church in Enfield Connecticut that hot summer day in 1741. Such was the conviction of the Spirit in this Sunday service that groans and cries were heard from the congregation as many imagined themselves sliding into the hot abyss without hope. David Brainerd, betrothed to Edward's daughter up until his early death of tuberculosis in 1747, would preach to the Indians in his missionary quest for their lost souls with such a conviction that there would be continual wailing from the listeners until a sweet peace would fall over those granted repentance. Charles Finney, great revivalist of the 2nd Great Awakening of the mid-19th century, would speak with similar results at his tent and camp meetings throughout the eastern United States. In the forward to Power from God by Charles Finney the editor writes:

His words seemed to fasten like arrows in the souls of men. They cut like a sword. Like the power of a hammer, they broke down strongholds. Multitudes experienced this power. Often, just a look or a single sentence would bring conviction and result in an almost immediate conversion to Christ.

All of these preceding examples have their biblical roots from that day nearly two thousand years ago when the Holy Spirit added 3,000 souls on the day of Pentecost and the church of Jesus Christ was birthed. A true move of God cannot be divorced from the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). It doesn't matter how many healings or so-called manifestations of the Spirit are occurring -- if people are not being saved and changeed to live godly lives then the purported move is suspect at best.

When the Holy Spirit moved the day the church began in Jerusalem, Luke records this moment by describing hearts being "pierced" by the conviction of God. The Greek word for pierce in this scripture is katenugēsan meaning to prick violently. God made Himself abundantly present in the hearts of these soon to be converts that He was not playing games. He didn't merely want them to "make a decision for Jesus", but he wanted to stab them violently with the realization that they were guilty of the Son of God's death and that without Him they would be lost forever. Even as the prophet Malachi stated that the Lord would come suddenly into His temple (Malachi 3:1), even so the Lord broke in on the bodily temples of these respective 3,000 souls and made the declaration that He was going to inhabit them for eternity! Oh, that God would raise up those that would preach like Peter and be pierced without pity! The reason we see so little of God moving in this manner in western Christendom is because we would rather be pleaded with to make a "decision" than to be pierced by the arrows of God. We would much rather remain stupefied under the watered-down gospel of the "me theology" than to be stabbed by the sword of the Spirit that can give life. God weeps for souls while we wonder what's on TV tonight! Beloved, the reason there is not more piercing is because there is not more praying. God give us Your heart to know that nothing else matters but to satisfy Your longing for redeemed souls!

If one looks at the instances of the Pharisee's reactions to the apostolic movement of the birth of Christ's church, you will see a much different "slicing and dicing" occurring. After Peter and John, by the power of God, gave the lame man legs to walk in Acts the fifth chapter we see an irate and hostile back lash from the religious order of the day. Peter took the opportunity to testify of the Lord Jesus and His healing power regarding why this lame man stood before them totally restored. The apostle also accused them of murdering the Son of God which drew hostile intentions from the Pharisees: But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. (Acts 5:33). Later, we find when Stephen at his defense accuses them of their hypocrisy and murder, that they react in a much similar way: Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him (Acts 7:54). The etymology or origin of "cutting to the quick" means to literally cut someone so deep in their emotions that a harsh reaction is nearly always warranted. In this case, it was a murderous conspiracy because of the pride and arrogance of these religious hypocrites. While "cutting to the quick" deals with a severe blow to the emotions or to the very psyche of a person, this does not precipitate a spirit of redemption when dealing only with the soul of a man. As shown in Acts 2 as well as in other examples previously stated regarding the Great Awakenings, the spirit of a man, woman, or child must be "pierced" not merely emotionally "sliced". There must be the work of the Holy Spirit that finds a humble heart, allowing Him to pierce, stab, and ultimately heal a heart that is ready for His work. That is why the work of the Holy Spirit is so critical in salvation and is impossible without Him. Even as the scripture in Hebrews states: For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). This, Beloved, is how God saves -- by the very separation of soul (emotions) and the spirit of a man. For only then can God redeem a lost human being in the humility that is so necessary for redemption.

While we hear many talking and seemingly desirous for a move of God in the western church, we must decide what we truly desire ... for God will give us what we seek. Are we wanting to witness once again the moving of God's Spirit where souls are ushered into the kingdom "suddenly"? Or, do we just desire to see an "educational" variety of Christendom where changed lives are not the norm, only changed vocabularies at best. It is one thing to talk like a Christian, it is quite another to walk like one. We desperately need a move of conviction that will once again shake the foundations of hell and cause heaven to resound with rejoicing not heard from the church in America and western Europe for some time. It is time to move God's heart -- to usher in that power from on high that will once again be the norm to "pierce" the hearts of men. Are we willing to pray, fast, and seek Him until the sword of the Spirit can do it's work? I pray that we would all be willing vessels to beseech the throne of grace until a redeemed, sanctified body of believers becomes the heritage of the church in the west. May He receive all the glory as we give ourselves for His most noble work!

Heavenly Father, we pray and boldly ask for the work of your Spirit to pierce hearts as we have read about and now desire to see. Use the Sword of the Spirit, the Arrows of the Lord to bring conviction and lead many to Jesus in our Laodicean western church. Cause your Holy Spirit to once again pierce asunder between soul and spirit and to have His way in men's hearts. We pray all this in Jesus' name and for His glory. Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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