There are many elements that are necessary for the church to continue successfully. However, a scripture based theology; Spirit anointed praying; Spirit led evangelism; and discipleship and nurture energized by the Spirit, and communicated by those who have experienced what they endeavor to communicate are most essential.
Scripture is the foundation, the rock, the cornerstone of Christian faith. Prayer is the method by which God has provided that His children would be able to have a living communion, fellowship and relationship with Him. Evangelism is the heart throb of God and is necessary for the church to expand. Discipleship is necessary for those who are believers to grow into the measure of the stature of fullness in Christ and is a vehicle to provide for the faith to be preserved for succeeding generations.
Along with these elements is the overriding influence of the Holy Spirit in specific anointing. Scripture cannot be understood by utilizing the human mind alone. If this were true, the apostle would never have said that the things of God are spiritually discerned and the carnal mind cannot know them, Rom. 8:7. Like any other book the Bible can be studied using natural study methods. But the truths contained therein must be revealed to the believer by the Spirit of God. Since the Spirit inspired all scripture, He is the indispensable agent in helping seekers discover the true revelation of God. All effectual prayer is born by the Spirit, energized by the Spirit, and prayed in the power of the Spirit. Evangelism apart from the anointing of the Holy Spirit is not evangelism. At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit is upon me, for He hath anointed me to preach. . .” Luke 4:18. David Barrett in his book Evangelize! A Historical Survey of the Concept, says on page 79, “in the New Testament euangelizein is only possible where the Holy Spirit is present, at work, in action, and in control.” Discipling others is not possible without the energizing effect of the Holy Spirit. Those who are training others must themselves have the experience of the Spirit living within them as they walk with God in a right relationship. It is as Christians abide in Christ that fruit is produced.
Irenaeus was concerned that the faith once delivered would continue, which is also a major concern for me. John Westerhoff asks, “Will our children have faith?” [Westerhoff, John III. Will Our Children Have Faith? New York: Seabury, 1976.]. Walter Bruggeman [Bruggemann, Walter. Hope Within History. Atlanta: John Knox Press. 1987] reverses this question with, “Will our faith have children?” It is evident that the “faith once delivered” must be reproduced in future generations. Persons who have not “experienced” salvation, transformation, the power of the Holy Spirit, enlightenment from the scriptures, who do not have a vital relationship with the Lord in prayer, and whose lives are not aflame with the desire to evangelize the lost are not able to communicate these experiences to others in a spiritual capacity. The things of God are communicated to man by God’s Spirit to man’s spirit. Spiritual communication on the human level is man’s spirit infused with the Holy Spirit relating to another person’s spirit. A man or woman whose spirit has not experienced God cannot communicate heavenly insights to another. Unless discipleship training is “caught” from relationship and fellowship in the Spirit, it is not sufficiently passed on.
Along with these four elements is the overarching influence of the bond of perfection which is love, Col. 3:14. Paul’s explication of the fruit of the Spirit begins with the supreme element, “the fruit of the Spirit is love,” Gal. 5:22. All other facets of the Spirit’s influence flow out of from this primary source. Everything done in the Church must be an extension of love – not human love, but agape love. Love produced by the Spirit of God. Fleshly notions no matter how noble are useless. Godly action flows from a heart and mind filled with God’s love. Godly love is not self-seeking but servant-hood, seeking the benefit of others, 1 Cor. 13:4. It should be the desire of every God-called minister to communicate God’s truth to the Body of Christ through preaching the Word of God, teaching in academic settings, teaching in the local church, promoting prayer, involving the Church in evangelism and providing discipleship and nurture within a fellowship that is Christ centered, Holy Spirit empowered, and controlled by the love of Christ.