The Sign Of The Spirit

I'll never forget a story a friend told me, a man named Dois Rosser, who once worked in India constructing church buildings--where he witnessed a remarkable work of the Holy Spirit. One day a colleague invited Dois to come along to one of his jobs. The two men drove for hours over dirt roads in the scorching heat, then walked down a long path to a small gathering of grass huts. When the inhabitants came out to greet them, Dois was stunned: This was a colony of lepers. Men, women, and children with their fingers eaten away, their faces disfigured, their limbs mere stubs. But the lepers didn't show any sign of self-pity. They eagerly invited Dois to see the sanctuary they were building. It turned out they had persuaded a stone mason to chip granite blocks from the boulders dotting the barren hillside. Then, one by one, they had painfully dragged the blocks to a clearing and mortared them into place. The walls were about waist high now, and the people smiled with joy as they showed Dois their progress. Then they asked him to pray with them--and for a second time my friend was stunned: for these Indian believers, these lepers, prostrated themselves on the dusty ground and offered fervent prayers, thanking and praising the Lord for His goodness and mercy. Here they were--poor, diseased, disfigured--in a land where Christians are outcasts, yet they overflowed with joy and thanksgiving. It could only be the work of the Holy Spirit. In my book The Body, I argue that this is the sign of the true church, wherever it may be on the globe: that it gives evidence of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. The church is not a beautiful building or any other human institution. It is the Lord's work, established by His grace, built by His power, and sealed by His Spirit. How does God's Spirit work in our midst? When we decide to worship Him--for no other reason than the glorious fact that He alone is worthy of worship and reverence. When we do that, people will see something in the church that cannot be explained in purely human terms--a love and unity that can only be supernatural. They will recognize a church that is under the seal of the Spirit. Here's the answer to a question that so often plagues us: How can I find a true church? The young person who has just converted, the family that moves into a new neighborhood--they may visit various churches in the area, asking themselves, Is this one authentic? Is this the real thing? The Bible gives several marks of the true church: It is one that preaches the Word of God faithfully; that administers the sacraments; that calls people to accountability. But even a Bible-believing church can be spiritually dry unless it meets one final qualification: that it bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit. A living, growing church--like the small leper colony on a barren hillside in India--is a church that is under the seal of the Spirit.


Chuck Colson


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