Peace, Be Still
“If God called his Holy Spirit out of the world, about 95 percent of what we are doing would go on and we would brag about it.”
This blunt statement about church programs by Dr. Carl Bates of Amarillo, Texas, was coupled with an equally blunt question to ministers at the annual Baptist Statewide Conference on Evangelism in Columbia, S. C.: “What are you doing that you can’t get done unless the power of God falls on your ministry?”
Keys, Power of. This is described in Matt. 16:19; John 20:23. (Comp. 2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10.) It is the authority given the Church to absolve (see CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION), and to excommunicate. It is a purely spiritual authority, exercised exclusively by the application of the Word of God. The agents are the ministers of the Word acting as the organs or instruments and representatives of the Christian congregation. (See Appendix to Schmalkald Articles, I. 24; II. 67, 68.) Neither the ministry nor the Church has any arbitrary or judicial power, whereby the degree of guilt may be determined and the absolution or excommunication be proportioned accordingly. Only they are absolved whom God absolves; only they are excommunicated whom God excommunicates. The Word declaring forgiveness communicates what it declares, when its conditions are observed, and only then. The excommunication excludes, from the outward fellowship, those who have already broken the inner fellowship of the Church.