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We pray and God answers prayer. A person was considering leaving their spouse when another person prayed for them during the second set of worship. The prayer was everything they needed to hear and they went home with a different perspective; the prayer saved the marriage. A health care provider manager took on a new job with difficult staff issues. They prayed for a specific type of person in a key position; at the perfect time that person walked through the door and took the job. A mom shared at Community Group about her child’s bad habit that was causing a disruption in daycare. The group prayed and the habit stopped that week. The idea is that we pray and watch God work. The problem is that we often forget what God has done. The Bible tells us to remember what God has done:
you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: Deuteronomy 7:18
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. Deuteronomy 15:15
Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth, 1 Chronicles 16:12
I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11
Psalm 78 says we are to recount these good things to the generation to come so that they will believe. The Psalmist goes on to say that those who forgot what God did lived defeated lives.
We need to remember that God is full of grace and goodness, and He is working in our lives. Are we sharing this truth with our kids? Are we sharing the great things God has done, what He’s doing, and what we can trust Him for in the future? God brought us out of our spiritual Egypt and set us free from spiritual bondage. He’s set us free to be in relationship with the loving Father.
What is God doing in your world? He is at work in your life, being faithful to His name. He is doing great things, whether that is providing a car or giving peace in the midst of a cancer diagnosis. Are we seeing, experiencing, and proclaiming these things?
Over the past three weeks, we’ve looked at the Holy Spirit as the power and presence of Jesus in the Church, in His people. The Spirit is necessary for our salvation, our sanctification and our security; the Holy Spirit empowers and equips us to serve. We need the Holy Spirit for essentially everything in our walk with Jesus. Author and theologian John Stott puts it this way:
Without the Holy Spirit Christian discipleship would be impossible even inconceivable. There can be no life without the life giver, no understanding without the Spirit of Truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christ likeness of character apart from His fruit, and no effective witness without His power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead. -Stott
We’ve looked at His nature – He is not a force to be wielded but a person to walk in relationship with. He is God in every way; even His name is not a label but a description of how God works and moves. We’ve seen that everyone in Christ has the Holy Spirit – whoever has the Spirit has the Son, and whoever has the Son has the Spirit. God gave us the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit so we could be in relationship with Him and experience all that He intended for us. We share Christ with others as a natural overflow of who we are in Him.
So why does that not happen for so many? If everyone who has the Son has the Spirit, why isn’t there more overflow in our lives? When we follow Jesus, two things happen in our lives: the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of or the fullness of the Holy Spirit. One is a one-time event that happens and is completed by God and Him alone; the other is a continuous or ongoing process accomplished by God that we participate in.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit
There are different views on the baptism of the Spirit and filling of Spirit. Today’s sharing is what we as leadership believe to be a Biblical model and the correct expression for our church. Other churches may think differently than us – this is an issue we discuss because we love our brothers and sisters and recognize we will all stand before Jesus. The Spirit was given to bring us to Christ, to sanctify us in Christ, and glorify Christ in all things. The overemphasis of the Spirit and His work, or the diminishing of the Spirit and His role, both work against the purpose of the Holy Spirit in this world, in the church, and in our lives. The Bible is the complete word of God and contains everything we need to walk in a victorious relationship with Jesus. But this book does not contain every fact about God; if He cannot be contained in a building or this world, He cannot be contained in a book:
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25
The Word is sufficient and complete, but it does not contain every single thing Jesus did. If a child asks, “Where is Mommy?” the answer reflects the age and understanding of the child; a simple response: “She’s at work” versus a more detailed answer: “She’s on her way to work for an interview, but hasn’t been hired yet.”
We need to take a Biblical approach to issues with much love and grace for one another. When it comes to baptism of the Spirit, there are three basic camps. Cessationists believe for the most part that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased and there is no subsequent baptism of the Spirit. They are high on knowledge and low on experience. The Charismatics believe in a subsequent believer’s baptism and developed out of mainline Protestant and Catholic churches in the 1960s. Pentecostals also believe in a subsequent believer’s baptism and speaking in tongues. This movement began in 1906 at the Azusa Street Revival, out of the holiness movement started by John Wesley. Some may combine Charismatic and Pentecostal, but there are doctrinal differences in other areas.
“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; … and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. John 16:5-8, 10-14
Jesus said, “I must go away. It is for your benefit so I can send the comforter, the Holy Spirit.” It happened just as Jesus said it would, at Pentecost. The New Testament contains seven references to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and six of those refer to this event at Pentecost, the initial arrival of the Holy Spirit indwelling (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16). The remaining reference is 1 Corinthians 12:13, used in the context of unity.
What is Pentecost? Pentecost was the day Israel celebrated the feast of the harvest or first fruits, 50 days after Passover.
“You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.” Exodus 23:16
“You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.” Exodus 34:22
“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD.” Lev. 23:15-16
Pentecost was also was the day that the Jews celebrated the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, 50 days after Passover, the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 19:1). The disciples gathered on Pentecost, waiting the arrival of the Holy Spirit as Jesus and the Father had promised and commanded. The command was to wait for the Holy Spirit, not to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the baptizer; He would not command them to go and do what He needed to initiate. God pours out His Spirit (prophesied in Ezekiel 36:25; Joel 2).
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:2-3
Acts records the initial one time event of the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Baptism of the Spirit at Pentecost was the pouring out of God’s Spirit on the Apostles. The Bible says they were all gathered together in one place, waiting for the Spirit as commanded. Baptism means immersion or submersion, to be overwhelmed by calamity. What took place at Pentecost was the overwhelming of the Spirit; the immersion of the followers of Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” Acts 2:1-13
People heard the rushing wind and were drawn together. The men were not drunk; Peter said it was too early for that (Acts 2:15). He went on to recount the history and prophecy for the Messiah, and the people were pierced to the heart (Acts 2:37). They asked Peter, “What must we do?” He said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This is for all who believe.
Jesus is the one who baptizes and He is the baptizer (Mark 1). The tense is ongoing, meaning Jesus continues to take away sin and gives us the Spirit:
“I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean… and I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes. Ezekiel 36:25, 27
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34
Baptism is the receiving of the Holy Spirit. All who believe on the Lord receive the Spirit:
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him…For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:9; 14-16
Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:6-7
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13
The context of this passage is unity – we were all baptized into the Body by one Spirit. The Spirit makes us one. We all have the same Spirit of God and we have all of Him. When we become followers of Jesus, He places the Spirit in us as a gift. We’re baptized, immersed and overwhelmed (Acts 2:38). God baptizes us in the Spirit, a one-time event.
Filling of the Spirit
What is the filling of the Spirit? This is related to baptism, but different – the semantics are important here. The filling of the Spirit includes confession, repentance, submission, and being filled – we participate in the filling. In Acts 2 the disciples were baptized and filled and in Acts 4, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. Stephen was filled with the Spirit (Acts 7:55), and the seven original deacons of the church were filled (Acts 13:52). Being filled with the Spirit was and is to be the norm, a part of daily life.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, (foolishness or one who cannot save himself) but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18
Paul commands do not get drunk and be filled with the Spirit. These are not comparisons but a contrast; alcohol depresses and causes loss of control whereas the Spirit gives control. Foolishness is the result of drunkenness; the result of being filled with the Spirit is a right relationship with God and others.
What does it mean to be filled? It is not quantitative like we are empty and need to be filled. We are not a container and the Holy Spirit is not a fluid or gas or commodity. To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled or submitted; it’s less of us and more of Him. Being filled is being in a right relationship with the Holy Spirit. In Romans 7, Paul writes about the flesh and the Spirit waging war within us. Does the flesh have control or the Spirit? This is a struggle but the victory comes from Jesus.
Be filled – this is a command, not optional or a suggestion. The command is plural, meaning it’s for all of us. The command is in the passive voice, meaning “let the Spirit fill you.” There is nothing you need to do but submit, the same idea is found in Colossians 3:16: “let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you..” The command is in present tense, meaning it is continual. There is a constant submitting to the control of the Spirit.
Evidence of the Spirit
Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing to God; giving thanks for all things; and being subject to one another are all evidence of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:19-21).
– Obedience – Mathew 7:21; 1 John 2:3-6
– Answers to prayer – We pray according to His will (1 John 5:14-15) and the Spirit tells us His will (Romans 8)
– Boldness – Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8)
– Diminished affection for the world (1 John 2:15-17)
– We hear the Spirit speak to us (John 10:26-27; Romans 8:16)
– The Spirit leads us (Romans 8:14)
– Fruit of Spirit (Galatians 5)
The Corinthian church had received the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13) and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 1:4-7), yet Paul called them carnal and of the flesh (1 Cor. 3:1-4). It is possible to have the Spirit and to know Jesus but to not be filled. If we are not controlled by the Spirit, then we are controlled by our idols of comfort, acceptance, approval, power, lust, control. The call is to repent:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9