A Perfect Balance of Truth and Life
By Ken Holmgren
Our theme for this issue, “True to the Word, Alive in the Spirit,” became an expression of BCF’s ministry in the 1980s during the ministry of Lloyd Jacobsen, BCF’s pastor from 1972 to 1989. As I remember this, my mind also travels back to the late 1960s, when Pastor Jacobsen served as the pastor of my home church in northern Iowa.
I was in my late teens at the time, and I will be forever grateful for the way Pastor Jacobsen showed personal interest in me in those years when I was making decisions that determined the direction of my life. His listening ear and gentle guidance impacted me in a very deep, rich way. Equally important as his personal ministry to me was what he shared about his desire for our church. He wanted to see our church have a proper balance of honoring God’s Word and experiencing vital, Holy Spirit-empowered living.
One day Pastor Jacobsen told me that he was not concerned about our church falling into doctrinal error. He did not fear that we would compromise clearly revealed biblical truth. However, his prayer was that we would be a church that was also experiencing the life of the Spirit of God.
How interesting it is that this prayer for my home church in Iowa would come to be expressed as the phrase “True to the Word, Alive in the Spirit” at Bethel Christian Fellowship about fifteen years later! His cry for the church, wherever he was serving, was that we know the Bible not only as God’s divinely revealed truth for our doctrinal beliefs, but also as the “living and active” Word of God (Hebrews 4:12) that the Holy Spirit uses to create spiritual life and bring us into intimate relationship with Christ.
Last year I read the remarkable story of a hardened criminal whose heart and life were dramatically changed when he was introduced to the New Testament and hungrily read it in a season of deep despair and hopelessness. God the Holy Spirit activated the written Word of God and lovingly drew him to the cross, to give his life to Jesus and become a new creation in Christ. The truth of the Word and the life-giving ministry of the Spirit performed a great and powerful work in him.
To be true to the Word and alive in the Spirit is to love and follow Jesus. We are often tempted to read Scripture with a desire to understand it only on an intellectual level. However, God calls us to “delight” in His Word and meditate on it “day and night” (Psalm 1:2). These expressions of love for Christ and surrender to Him result in changed lives.
How do you relate to the Word of God? How much do you allow the Holy Spirit to live and work in your life? God is inviting you into a growing, intimate relationship with Him through the ministry of His Word and the life of His Spirit. He calls you to lay aside anything that is separating you from Him and surrender your heart and life to Him. It is His will that you and I be true to the Word and alive in the Spirit.