There is a tendency for churches to be strong in either the Word or the Spirit. Few churches are strong in both. If the Church in Malaysia is to make an impact in the lives of people (and the nation) I don’t see how this can be an option.
Jesus was clearly both strong in Word & Spirit. When He was tempted in the wilderness He quoted Scripture, “It is written….” In order to quote the right Scripture you got to know the Bible well. To wield the Sword of the Spirit effectively you need to imbibe the Word of God. The Lord obviously did.
While Jesus was teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum the people noted that He taught with authority—not like the religious teachers of the day. Then, when, in the same instance, He cast out a demon from a man His spiritual authority became even more evident (Mk 1:21-28). Clearly, the Lord was both strong in Word and Spirit.
When you study the life and ministry of the apostles and the early church you see the same thing. As a result of their strength in both Word and Spirit the early church grew phenomenally (Acts 2:42-47).
While it is not as bad as it used to be; there is, however, still a tendency for churches to emphasise on one to neglect the other. I know this may be a bit of a caricature, but generally speaking, Evangelical churches emphasise on the Word, the fruit of the Spirit and character formation; while Pentecostal and Charismatic churches emphasise on the Spirit, spiritual gifts and power ministries. It is heartening to see that more churches have begun to understand that it is not “either or” but “both and”. We need to be balanced in both Word and Spirit.
However, that is not yet the complete picture. It is not just about being balanced—it is also about being as strong as we can in both Word and Spirit. On a scale of 1 to 10, a church can be perfectly balanced when it is at level 1 for both the Word and the Spirit. But the awful truth is that it is also neither strong in both. This is not the condition any church should want to be in, or continue to be in—it must want to be balanced and dynamic in both Word and Spirit.
As illustrated in the diagram below, it means a church must keep growing and developing and pushing to the utmost levels of empowerment in both these critical aspects of its spiritual life.What is your church doing to move towards that reality? How is it praying for this? How is it equipping the members to be strong in both? How is it stepping out in faith to be effective in the ministry of the Word and in the things of the Holy Spirit? If the church in Malaysia is to recapture the power and effectiveness of the church of Acts it needs to be conscious of growing simultaneously in both Word and Spirit.