Let me recommend a great book to add to your library. Dr. Frank H. Billman’s The Supernatural Thread of Methodism (subtitled “Signs and Wonders Among Methodists Then and Now”) is a wonderful read telling of the roots of Methodism and its founder, John Wesley. Among the many nuggets found in the book, we see that in its formation, the great Methodist Church was no stranger to the power of the Holy Spirit. Signs and wonders abounded. The Holy Spirit powerfully anointed Wesley and used him bring revival to the Church.
Here are just a couple of quotes from the book that shows Wesley’s love for the present-day working of the Holy Spirit. The following italicized paragraph is taken from Billman’s book and can be found on page 164.
Finally, Wesley himself has noted that the spiritual gifts were not generally exercised after the first two or three centuries after Christ. But the reason for this was not that these gifts were not available. Rather, as he noted, “The real cause was ‘the love of many,’ almost all Christians, was ‘waxed cold,’ because the Christians were turned Heathens again, and had only a dead form left.” (Sermon LXXXIX, “The More Excellent Way,” Works, Vol. 7, 26-27) And Wesley wrote, “I do not recollect any scripture wherein we are taught that miracles were to be confined within the limits either of the apostolic or the Cyprianic age, or of any period of time, longer or shorter, even till the restitution of all things.” (“Principles of a Methodist Farther Explained,” Works, Vol. 8, 465)
A little further down in Billman’s book on page 165 we read …
When asked once why the gifts of the Spirit, manifest in the early church, had disappeared, as if the church had no more need for them, Mr. Wesley responded: “It should not be reasoned that the absence of such in the church (eighteenth-century Church of England) reflects the reluctance of God to give, rather the reticence of the church to receive.”
Wesley nailed it! The absence of the presence and working of the Holy Spirit within our churches, or to be more honest, within us personally, isn’t a “God” thing. It’s a “me” thing. God isn’t withholding. We are the ones holding back the presence and power. It would behoove us to reflect on Wesley’s observations and, if needed, personalize and repent. Heaven is waiting.