the weblog of Alan Knox

The Church without the Holy Spirit?

Posted by on Feb 23, 2012 in blog links, gathering, spirit/holy spirit | 7 comments

Dan at “Cerulean Sanctum” has been writing some very good posts lately. His latest is no exception: “The Spirit-Led Church Is the Only Real Church.”

It seems like Dan makes two points in this post. First, he’s saying that it’s possible to do certain activities without the involvement of the Holy Spirit. Second, he’s saying that a “real church” (as demonstrated in Scriptures) cannot operate without the Holy Spirit.

For the first point, Dan says:

We can sing songs without the Holy Spirit.

We can recite lines of liturgy without the Holy Spirit.

We can talk with others about life without the Holy Spirit.

We can prepare sermons without the Holy Spirit.

We can listen to those Spirit-less sermons without the Holy Spirit.

We can offer prayers without the Holy Spirit.

We can partake of a thimble of grape juice and a tiny cracker without the Holy Spirit.

We can run through our optimized order of service without the Holy Spirit.

As to the second point, Dan says:

The church assembly of the Bible was led by the Spirit from beginning to end. It depended in the Spirit for everything. Without the Holy Spirit, the charismatic gifts would cease to function. There would be no prophetic words possible. No words of knowledge or wisdom. No healing. None of the functions of a normal assembly of Christian people filled by the Spirit coming together to share their individual giftings in a public setting.

The order of the church would vanish without the Holy Spirit. What would those assembled do next? No one would have a psalm or spiritual song to bring because the Holy Spirit would not be there to inspire its singing or bringing. What inspired-in-the-moment message would be possible? Who would lead?

The people in the church assembly, those equipped by the Spirit to use their gifts, would have nothing to do, their reliance on the Spirit shattered by His absence. They would sit passively, lost.

A real church without the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide, equip, use, and mobilize would cease completely to be what it is supposed to be as depicted in the Bible.

Interestingly, the Holy Spirit often leads us to do certain activities that can be done without him or apart from him. So, how can we tell the difference between doing certain activities WITHOUT the Holy Spirit and doing them WITH the Holy Spirit?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-23-2012

    As a mental exercise of what life looks like without the Holy Spirit or with Him, we can speculate many things. But as I have experienced life with the Holy Spirit and life without the Holy Spirit, volumes can be written. First by experience I have learned that the Holy Spirit is automatically where the revelation of Jesus is. In Mathew 16 Peter said “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” The Holy Spirit was there. The Holy Spirit is anywhere Jesus is welcomed, listened to, and worshiped in truth. Jesus said “I Am”. In our vernacular, as relating to Peter’s Mathew 16 revelation, where the absolute, unequivocal, understanding is: “Oh My God, Jesus you are the Almighty God, The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, The I AM, you are everything that means anything, The Holy Spirit is sure to be there.
    Jesus said in John 14:26
    But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
    In John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.

  2. 2-23-2012


    One of many things that will occur, without the Holy Spirit, is that ritualism and inherited patterns of thought and action (tradition) will dominate.

  3. 2-23-2012

    Tony and Aussie John,

    Thanks for the feedback. You’ve both brought up some very good points. I think it should concern us that we can manufacture something that appears to be from the Holy Spirit.


  4. 2-23-2012

    Francis Schaeffer wrote in True Spirituality that the board meetings of most churches could operate quite nicely without the Holy Spirit.

    Someone asked, “Is the Holy Spirit the guest of honor or the emcee?”

    Nee observed that if someone is operating under the direction of the Spirit you should not be able to predict how that person will function, act, or speak based on what you know or can observe of him.

    Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing. Of course, our experience teaches us otherwise, or so we might think. In reality, what we do apart from Him amounts to nothing. More often than not, we fail to recognize how utterly dependent we are on Him for everything; you name it, everything!

  5. 2-23-2012


    Thanks for the information about Schaeffer and Nee. There’s also a great quote by A.W. Tozer about this.


  6. 2-24-2012

    I believe the Holy Spirit will express himself not only in gifts but also in fruits. Is there truly kindness among the gathered. Is there gentleness exhibited, longsuffering, patience,joy, love. We’ve met in our home fellowship for 14 years and we have had people come and go as the spirit leads each individual, but I can honestly say no one has ever discontinued meeting with the group because they were angry or had problems with anyone in the group. In fact we still maintain ongoing friendships with, and continue to fellowship with these people outside of our Sunday morning gatherings because they are our friends.

    So in answer to your question Alan the activities guided by the Holy Spirit should also be expressed and wrapped in the Fruits of the Spirit.

  7. 2-24-2012


    I think that’s a great point, and one that is often overlooked! Thanks!