JERUSALEM - In a high-energy parting shot to a gathering of several thousand Spirit-filled believers at the closing session of the Empowered21 Global Congress in Jerusalem, Israel on Sunday, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez warned that "there is no such thing as comfortable Christianity" and urged the group to use the power God gave them to declare Him to the world.
"When you are filled with God's Spirit everything changes. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you are able to do what you were not able to do before. The Spirit came down and Peter did what? He raised his voice…Listen carefully, religion makes us complacent while revival makes us courageous. Today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity," he warned.
Preaching from Acts 2:14 highlighting the reaction of the Apostle Peter after the initial descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Rodriguez urged the believers to "be filled, stand up, and raise your voice."
In Acts 2, after the Holy Spirit had first descended, it said of those who had witnessed it: "And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, these men are full of new wine."
It was Peter, however, who stood up and explained.
"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words," said the Scripture.
"For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel," the Scripture continued.
Rodriguez, highlighted that this was the same Peter that before the cross and the Pentecost experience, hid in the crowd. After having the Spirit-filled encounter, however, Peter was emboldened to stand up this time despite the mockery.
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"There is no such thing as comfortable Christianity. So let me be clear right now, the Spirit did not come down so we could stay seated. The Spirit did not come down so we could stay complacent. The spirit did not come down so we could say Kumbaya. The Holy Spirit came down so we could…change the world for Jesus," said Rodriguez.
"The Spirit of God came down so we could push back the complacency and apathy. Full of the Holy Spirit, in the face of false accusations, they were accused of being drunk, Peter stood up and spoke truth, full of the Holy Spirit," he continued.
"Just like with Peter, the accuser has risen, labelling us as intolerant, bigoted and irrelevant. Just like with Stephen, the enemy threatens, persecutes and slaughters our brothers and sisters, people of the cross. And just like with Paul, we find ourselves under immense spiritual warfare. Where all hell has risen to impede us from occupying what God has brought us. And just like the apostle in Acts 27, the storms of relativism, decadence, and apathy threaten to do nothing less than drown those in our ships. So what are we gonna do?" he asked.
"We are here today on Pentecost Sunday in Jerusalem, filled not with emotional constructs or religious paradigms. We are filled with the Holy Spirit of God and when we go back to our countries, even at this hour, guess what the Spirit-empowered church is about to do next? We are about to stand up and change the world for the glory of Jesus Christ," he declared.
"There is no such thing as silent Christianity. There is no such thing as Christianity on mute. A silent Pentecostal is an oxymoron on steroids," he added.
The Sunday service that attracted a crowd of 4,500 people from more than 70 countries in the Jerusalem Pais Arena was the setting for the first Lifetime Global Impact Awards presented to five leaders known around the world for their ministry contributions.
Empowered21 co-chairs William Wilson and George Wood made presentations to Morris Cerullo, Jack Hayford, Marilyn Hickey, David Maines and Vinson Synan. Reinhard Bonnke was also slated to receive an award but he was unable to personally receive it due to his illness.
"The Bible instructs us to 'give honor to whom honor is due.' It is with great joy that we present awards to these forefathers of the Spirit-empowered movement," said Wilson.
"The collective ministries of these giants of the faith have transformed the lives of millions of people. We are deeply thankful for their legacies and invite all of their friends from around the world to join us in Jerusalem to celebrate their contribution to God's work."
Along with Rodriguez, other speakers who spoke at the closing session were Anne Christiansen, founder of Jesus Women; Daniel Khong, youth and worship pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore; Daniel Kolenda, president and CEO of Christ for All Nations; Tim Ross, executive pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas; Dave Burrows, leader of Bahamas Faith Ministries International and Esteban Solis, co-pastor of Evangelistic Center Church in Costa Rica.
"This Global Congress was powerful and I believe God met many people in a special way," said Wilson at the end of the service on Sunday. "We believe that the fresh outpouring of God's Spirit on us here in Jerusalem will create ripples around the world for advancing the cause of Christ. The best days for the Spirit-empowered movement are still ahead. We can't and won't rest until everyone has an opportunity to experience Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit."
The next regional meetings of Empowered21 will be held in London next year and Asia in 2017. Other meetings were announced for Africa in 2018 and Latin America for 2019. The location for the next Global Congress in 2020 is yet to be decided.