Previously, we asked ‘What constitutes an ACTS church service?’
The ‘open mic’ was the hot topic in that article, but now let’s look at another aspect of a healthy, 1st-century church service - the ‘earnest section’.
The earnest section is a 2000s label for the ‘anxious seats’ or ‘mourner’s bench’ of the 1800s. The Spirit of God is the Comforter. He also works with the Father to bring men to conviction and much needed change. The earnest section is designed to help those seeking to become born again, or sanctified after salvation. Believers and unbelievers alike hear the Holy Spirit; we must prepare both to respond to those amazing, yet fragile moments of change.
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." - John 6:44
The Holy Spirit wants to take you and your church fellowship somewhere! He is the only member of the Godhead present on earth and needs a human’s permission to do anything. It could be that He wants to move with conviction, but without a plan to do that and a safe outlet for expression, He may be stifled. The earnest section is a great place for individuals to respond to conviction and remove the curses associated with sin.
Church should be a place we anticipate to hear things that stir us up to change. That difference may be public and dramatic, or it may be subtle and private. What is the point of coming week after month after year, hearing wonderful testimonies and teachings, and not change into more of His image & likeness? The earnest section should be treated as a holy place. A place set apart for conviction to manifest.
Let me give you a testimony about the earnest section. Years ago at Hope of the Generations in Thomaston, GA, a father was struggling with rage and anger directed toward his son. He knew it was the enemy, but could not fight the anger and temptation by himself, so he came to the earnest section during a church service. After a simple, yet heartfelt confession by the father, a spirit of murder was cast out of him. What happened next was not something you can plan on. The time of ministry did not end with a social and empathetic ‘amen & a hug’, but rather a guttural yelling that shook those in attendance. This big man dropped to the floor as the murderous spirit was being released from him.
Now, what would you do if you were being used to lead this church fellowship? Would you
A. call 911,
B. tell everyone to leave their devils at home, or
C. destroy the works of the devil and tell everyone present, don’t fear - it is just a spirit of murder leaving?
Both the earnest section and open mic are a ‘risk’, but it is a greater risk NOT having them! Not every earnest section involves deliverance, but in this case, it did. In that same church service, everyone was told, “Get out of your fear of evil! He’s just getting delivered. Do you want this man to keep the spirit or have it loosed from him?” From start to finish, the whole time of ministry lasted about 10 minutes. That’s better than a lifetime with torment, or even worse, that spirit of murder manifesting its identity.
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;" - Acts 3:19
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." - James 5:16
I’m sure we’ve all had a repentant breakthrough in the quiet, private place of the closet or our car. But sometimes, God wants to mix it up and have the body minister to the body. You cannot coordinate & plan out these moments, or announce to everyone it is time to be earnest, but you can talk to the Father on what the church needs. The church is filled with fear of evil, and what better way to deal with it, and get on in the kingdom of God by letting it manifest, in what should be, the safest place on the planet.
"By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil." - Proverbs 16:6
The earnest section makes spirits of religion nervous and jerky. It is unpredictable. Well, good, better those spirits feeling that way than God's people. The tradeoff is worth it if you’re a 1st century church. Paul cast out a spirit of divination, called python, in a public setting. Philip, the evangelist, cast out loud, unclean spirits in public. Jesus cast out a deaf & dumb spirit in public. It was done in the early church because it is what the Holy Spirit did with Jesus and it is what the Father wants.
There are other purposes for the earnest section, and we will address those in later blogs. For now, prepare your church to give on the open mic, and receive on the earnest section. The Father will work with you in real time to make a bold difference in those that want more of Him.