Summary: The second faith tradition offers a counter balance to the holy life: the spirit-filled life. We’ll explore strengths/dangers and how to integrate this tradition into our lives.
Streams of Living Water
Filled By the Spirit
October 17, 2004
Last week we looked at our first stream of living water: the holy life. The counterbalance to the holy life is the spirit-filled life. If legalism and perfectionism are two of the great perils of the holy life, then the flexibility and unpredictability of the spirit-filled life are great counter weights to the perils of the holy life.
Luke 4:14 tells us that Jesus after being victorious over His temptations, left the desert for Galilee filled with the power of the Spirit. The spirit-filled life is about the empowering gifts of the spirit and the nurturing fruit of the spirit.
Paul asks the disciples that he found (and note that they were called disciples so we know that they had become Christian believers but they were still missing something) if they had been filled with the Spirit of God. They hadn’t. When Paul placed his hands on these men, they were filled by the Spirit (and power) of God. God placed within these men two gifts of grace as a sign of this filling.
When God fills a person with His Spirit, God imparts upon them gifts of grace or spiritual gifts that show the work of God in those people’s lives. This is not a brush of the spirit nor is it a dip in the spirit. This is the filling of the Spirit of God in a fresh way.
A city dweller turned farmer went to the local feed store to get some answers: his best cow had stopped producing milk.
“Are you feeding her right?” asked the storeowner.
“Just what you sold me,” replied the rookie.
“Are you milking her every day?” the owner asked.
“Just about. Sometimes when I only need six or eight ounces for breakfast, I just let her save up to get it all later,” came the reply.
The storeowner explained that it doesn’t work that way. “You have to take all there is to give,” he said.
But you know what? That is exactly the way it is with God and His Spirit. You have to take all He has to give you. That is the basic definition of being filled with His Spirit. It is not a smorgasbord. You don’t pick and choose. Get a little of this and a little of that. It is all or nothing.
From the Apostle Paul we learn three functions that spiritual gifts do. These three principles can be found in Paul’s extensive teaching in 1 Corinthians.
Spiritual Gifts Serve the Body By:
A. Guiding it.
B. Empowering it.
C. Building it.
And notice that the spiritual gifts serve the body not the individual. Most of the abuses of spiritual gifts and most of the improprieties that have occurred were caused when a person either intentionally or unintentionally sought to build his or herself up instead the body. Every spiritual gift can be grouped into one of these categories as its primary function. For example, the gift of prophecy is meant to empower the body somewhat but mostly to guide it. The gift of mercy is for the building of the body. The gift of leadership is for empowering it.
And here is a very important principle for determining whether or not something is “of the spirit.”
The sign of the Spirit is when output exceeds the input.
When the output exceeds what we possibly could have put into it on our own, is a very clear sign of God’s Spirit at work. This means that life in and through the Spirit will have three signs.
a. Power in the Spirit.
b. Growth in the Spirit.
c. Joy in the Spirit.
A person that is living through and by the Spirit will have a supernatural power that is evident in his or her life. Be careful! This evidence will not be the same for every person! A great heresy that you may have heard is that there is only one spiritual gift that is evidence of God’s Spirit. This is not a biblical doctrine. If fact, Paul emphasizes the opposite by saying that not all parts of the body have the same function and that the body needs all of its diverse parts.
Healthy spiritual power ties together the spiritual growth of the holy life. When brought together, the greatest miracles are not outward ones but inward changes in a person’s heart.
Then when the power of the Spirit is present, the people will sing with such a fervent joy and the word of God will go forth in might and power.
One day three men were walking along and came upon a raging, violent river. They needed to get to the other side, but had no idea of how to do it.