ENCOUNTERING THE HOLY SPIRIT: What Does This Mean? 3
Joel 2:28-32; Acts 26:26; Various
The Holy Spirit Then and Now
Last October, a church in California hosted a national conference entitled STRANGE FIRE. The focus of the conference was to identify the spurious and aberrant teachings and behaviors of some charismatic evangelists and ministries. What it ended up being was a bashing of anything Pentecostal or charismatic.
The conference speakers and organizers painted all things Pentecostal or charismatic as dubious, deceptive, diabolical, and deranged.
For those who have grown up Pentecostal, you may remember the days when Pentecostals were shunned, laughed at, and accused of being demon possessed.
By and large, those days are gone. Pentecostal/charismatics are not only accepted by the evangelical community many are in key positions of leadership within the greater church world.
Few today will say the gifts are non-existent. Thanks to multi media, television, and the internet, we see evidence how Holy Spirit is working around the world doing wonders. People are being saved, bodies healed, even the dead are being raised in places the early Apostles never knew existed.
This I believe is in fulfillment of Jesus promise, in John 14:12 where he said,
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.(NLT)
Nevertheless, some sincere Bible believing teachers and pastors will argue that the gifts are no longer necessary or important to be pursued in the Christian life, today.
HAVE THE GIFTS CEASED? (1 Cor.13:8-10)
Those who argue that the spiritual gifts , especially tongues have ended or are irrelevant often quote this verse,
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
The argument says that when the perfect has come, tongues, prophecy, and knowledge will cease.
What is the PERFECT? It is argued that now that we have all 66 books of the Bible, we no longer need to rely on tongues, prophecy or the other gifts. They are no longer needed.
It is important to understand what scripture is actually saying. What is the PERFECT Paul refers too? The answer is found in verse 12,
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Paul is describing face to face encounter with Jesus. This what Paul refers to as PERFECT, when we see Jesus in His full glory at His return!
Here is the point I want you to take home today;
Until we see Jesus face to face we continue to need and should seek after the power, promise and presence of the Holy Spirit everyday.
The New Testament, church history and personal experience each declare the Holy Spirit’s desire to manifest Himself in your life and our church.
1. THE NEW TESTAMENT FOUNDATON OF PENTECOST: Foundation
a. The Promise: Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8
I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay(wait) in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Jesus repeats this promise in Acts 1:8,9…
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
BUT IS THAT ALL?
The promise was fulfilled on the day of PENTECOST.
b. The Day of Pentecost: Acts 2:1-4
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
The expereince in the upper room was not a one shot deal. The day of Pentecost opened the door for the PERPETUATION of Pentecost.
c. The PERPETUATION OF PENTECOST: It continues
Philip And The Samaritans (8:14-15); Saul of Tarsus (9:17); Peter and Cornelius (10:45-48); The Ephesians (19:1-6)
Philip and the Samaritans: When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Saul of Tarsus (9:17) Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Peter and Cornelius (10:45-48) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues[b] and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
The Ephesians (19:1-6) While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus.There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied.
The Book of Acts is rightfully called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. It is His testimony so to speak of How He empowered the church and changed the world.
BUT IS THAT ALL?
Is the Holy Spirits story only relegated to the New Testament?
Some contend that the Holy Spirit is not seen in the life of the church after the first century. If the New Testament is the foundation, then church history is the verification of the continued work of the Holy Spirit in the church.
2. CHURCH HISTORY VERIFIES THE CONTINUATION OF PENTECOST:
The first century church fathers spoke of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Ignacious of Antioch (d. AD 107): He was a student of the Apostle John and appointed Bishop of Antioch by the Apostle Peter. He was thrown to the lions under the persecution of Emporer Trajan. On his way to his execution, Ignatias wrote letters to 7 churches. To one of these churches he referred to possessing the gift of prophecy.
Justin Martyr (d.165 AD) another Christian who died for his faith, boasted to the Jewish Trypho "that the prophetic gifts remain with us"
Irenaeus (a.d. 120-200) also bears witness to the presence of the gifts of the Spirit. He writes: "We have heard of many of the brethren who have foreknowledge of the future, visions, and prophetic utterances; others, by laying-on of hands, heal the sick and restore them to health" (Against Heresies, 2:32,4).
Time does not permit me to write about Ambrose, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Or Origen or Augustine. All who gave testimony of the present work of the Holy Spirit in their own day.
Lets jump ahead to the Middle ages. The Waldensians under the leadership of Peter Waldo, was a movement of believers who were convinced that the Holy Spirit was still active. Their worship was characterized by the gifts of the Spirit particularly prophecy.
Francis of Assissi who lived from 1181-1226, left his wealthy family fortune and became a beggar priest. He formed what would become the Franciscan order of monks. Healings were attributed to Francis, and he admitted to being ‘drunk in the Spirit’
The Holy Spirit is spoken of by the post reformation leaders.
Martin Luther, the key figure of the protestant reformation, emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit in understanding the Bible.
In France there was a group of believers who broke away from the roman Catholic church called the Hugenots.
They experienced healings, and spoke of other manifestations such as prophecy and ‘falling under the power of God’/
The Hugenots would have an influence on the Moravians who in turn would be instrumental in leading a young discouraged Anglican missionary by the name of John Wesley. It was John Wesley who emphasized a ‘second’ blessing he referred to as the baptism in the Holy spirit. Wesley once wrote, ‘The holy Spirit enables men to speak in tongues.’
While he refered to this second blessing as sanctification , Wesley Also testifies of prayer meetings with his brother Charles and evangelist George Whitfield in which all three were cast to the floor in a dramatic visitation of divine power.
In the 19th century, a distinctive Pentecostal movement emerged called the Catholic Apostolic Movement also known as the Irvingites, named after its founder, Edward Irving.
While it was noted for its ritual and ceremony, Irving was commited to the restoration Pentecostalism, especially the gift of tongues and prophecy.
By the 20th century there already were several ‘Pentecostal denominations’ who were advocating the restoration of the gifts and baptism in the holy Spirit. Then in 1904, something miraculous happened that would impact Christianity and the world for the next 100 years.
(YouTube Azusa St revival)
Today, the Pentecostal movement has emerged as not only the ‘third Force’ of Christianity, it is one of the most influential movements in the world today. It has touched every continent on the planet. Today, there are almost 1 billion people who are part of the Pentecostal/charismatic movement.
This is the point,
When governments, religious institutions, theologians tried to silence the movement of the Spirit, what history shouts loud and clear is HOLY SPIRIT CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE SILENCED!
BUT IS THAT ALL?
It is one thing to acknowledge the promise of Pentecost. It is one thing to know how the Holy Spirit moved in the past. But in order for it to be real, you must RECEIVE your own personal Pentecost.
3. THE PERSONAL APPLICATION OF PENTECOST
When was the last time you fed a baby oatmeal? Peaches or applesauce? How about my all time favorite green beans or peas? Regardless of what you may be serving when your baby does not want to eat his or her entire body gets engaged in the struggle. The jaws become cast iron letting nothing enter the mouth. Any food that may miraculously make it past the lips is pushed out by an iron tongue. The baby develops great eye coordination at these times when you want it to finish the last few bites, but he or she has had enough. The spoonful headed for the mouth hits the ear instead, a small hand pushes the spoonful into your lap. How many of you have ever been there?
Babies need to eat. Good nutrition is important for the growth and development of every infant. However, no matter how hard we may try, and regardless of how tasty the food may be, UNLESS THE BABY IS YIELDED AND WILLING TO EAT, WE CANNOT “FILL IT” WITH FOOD. When the same baby is hungry or thirsty and is crying out making its desire know, then it is much easier to “fill” the baby.
Similarly, the Holy Spirit does not force Himself to “FILL US.” In the same way that a baby needs to have a desire for food or drink to be willing to eat, we must also crave the presence of the Holy Sprit in our lives in order to be “filled with the Spirit.”
John 7:37-39 37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (NIV)
JESUS OFFERS US “STREAMS OF LIVING WATER.”
WHAT IS "LIVING WATER?" John answers that question in verse 39; “when he said ‘living water,’ he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory” (NLT). “Living water” is the Holy Spirit. Jesus offers to fill you and I to overflowing with the Spirit of God.
According to Jesus, this abundant filling with the Holy Spirit is not automatic. Before anyone can be filled, Jesus identifies THREE PREREQUISITES, three things we should do in order to be filled with the Spirit.
1. We need to believe Jesus’ teaching about the baptism in the Holy Spirit APPLIES TO ALL BELIEVERS.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a valid and desirable gift for all believers today. As we have learned today, It is not true as many Christians say that being filled with the Holy Spirit was only valid for the first century Christians.
No where in the Bible does Jesus say that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was only for the disciples and the early church.
On the contrary Jesus said, “And these signs will accompany those who believe. . . they will speak in new tongues” (Mark 16:17 NIV). Jesus said that if we believe in Him can have the supernatural experience of speaking in an unknown language known as the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
2. We also need to believe that Jesus WANTS TO FILL US with the Holy Spirit.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit or baptized in the Spirit is not a denominational issue; it is not the Pentecostals versus the Baptists or any other group. The PAOC does not have a “corner on the market.” JESUS WANTS TO FILL ALL BELIEVERS.
Why does Jesus want His followers to be filled?
A. Jesus wants believers to have SPIRITUAL POWER.
Jesus said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8 NIV).
When you are filled with the Holy Spirit you will sense God’s great love for you; it’s like a great big hug from God. You will be edified and encouraged in your faith in Christ; you will have a great joy in the Lord. These are all great things, but none are the reason you are baptized in the Holy Spirit.
With the baptism in the Holy Spirit you are empowered to be a witness of the risen Christ. It isn’t just so you can feel good; it’s so others can be forgiven and feel good too.
Each of us need the strength, courage and boldness that the Holy Spirit alone can provide us. Only with the power of the Spirit at work within our lives will we have strength to stand for Christ regardless of the circumstances.
We need God’s Spirit to empower us!
B. Jesus wants us to have SPIRITUAL PURITY.
Nothing will compromise our witness for Christ more than sin. Jesus wants us to live a holy life free from the entanglements of sin.
John the Baptist taught that Jesus would baptize with the “Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11-12). The fire of the Holy Spirit will purify our lives of sin; it will burn away the impurities so the purity of Christ in us can be seen.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would “convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8 NIV). Instead of satisfying the desires of our flesh, we can have the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in our everyday lives (see Galatians 5:16-26).
Believing that Jesus wants us to be filled with the Spirit and desires to fill us is only the beginning. There is one more perquisite,
3. WE NEED TO RECEIVE–We need to yield our bodies to the Holy Spirit.
Someone has said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” That horse is like the baby who doesn’t want to be fed. Until the horse is thirsty it won’t drink; until an infant is hungry it won’t eat.
Before Christ can fill us with the Holy Spirit we need to have a desire to be filled, but desire or thirst alone is not enough; you have to be willing to drink–you have to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”
I may be thirsty; I might even let you know that I would like something to drink. You can even fill a glass with ice cold water and give it to me; you might even get carried away and put the glass to my lips and begin to pour the water into my mouth and all over me, but you can do nothing to make me drink it. I have to be willing to swallow if my thirst is going to be satisfied.
God will not “make you” speak in tongues; the Holy Spirit will not force you to speak. However, you will speak in other tongues as the Spirit enables you as Acts 2:4 says, they all spoke in tongues as the Spirit enabled them. God gives us Spirit inspired speech.
As we come to Jesus with the desire to be filled, we must choose to yield our bodies, specifically our tongues to God in order for Him to fill us with the Holy Spirit.
The Bible says we should “offer the parts of your body to Him” (Romans 6:13 NIV). Our tongue is the instrument which God empowers to speak an unknown language.
Let me put it to you in the simplest way I know; you cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit if you are unwilling to speak.
If you “lock your jaw” like the baby that doesn’t want to be “filled” with food, then you will remain silent and God won’t fill you.
Only as you choose to open your mouth can God give you the Spirit inspired words to speak and be filled with the Spirit.
One final thought about receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Many who desire to be filled with the Spirit focus on speaking in tongues.
The ability to speak in an unknown language is result of being filled in the Spirit, but “tongue talking” is not the purpose of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. The reason God fills you with His Spirit is to empower you to bring glory to Jesus as His witness.
Your willingness to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit should not focus on the gift but the giver. DON’T THINK ABOUT SPEAKING IN TONGUES; THINK ABOUT JESUS!
Jesus didn’t say, “If you are thirsty, come and be refreshed by my living water;” Jesus said, “If you are thirsty, COME TO ME and drink.” Jesus emphasis is not upon what He will give you to drink; the focus is on Him as the one who provides you with what will satisfy your thirst. “Come to me! Come to me and drink!” Jesus is the baptizer and He will fill you as you look to Him.
Have you received the Holy Spirit since you accepted Jesus as your savior? Do you believe that Jesus wants you to be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Is it your desire to be filled? Are you ready to yield control and speak as His Spirit enables you?
CONCLUSION: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
It means that God is pouring out the Holy Spirit upon those who are ready and hungry to receive him. ARE YOU READY?