Summary: The first in a 3-part series on embracing the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Acquire The Fire #1 – Flying Closer To The Flame 9.3.03 Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at the central character of the Book of Acts.. the Holy Spirit. And I want to say a word up front about this. There’s probably no area that’s led to more disagreement, and, at the same time, to more freedom, than the role of the Holy Spirit. So we’re going to plunge kind of deeply into this tonight and for the next few weeks.

Author John Ortberg makes this point: It’s possible that a person can get some of their ideas about the Holy Spirit wrong, but be so open and tender and submissive that they’re used by the Holy Spirit. And it’s possible that some people can get a lot of ideas about the Holy Spirit right, but become arrogant and judgmental & proud. So our goal is to get both the right ideas and the right heart. So lets look at… 1. The ‘Age of the Spirit’ Acts 2:1-8, 11, 41

This is account of the pouring out, or the baptism, of the Spirit that Jesus had promised. And it resulted in 2 things. * One of them is that people are led into life with Jesus - about 3000 that day. * Another is that where there had been division once -there is now unity. There’s a kind of reversal of the curse going on there. You might remember a place in the Bible, in the Old Testament where a great crowd of people gathered, and in act of pride and defiance tried to reach their way to God. And something happened. People who’d previously been able to understand each other went away no longer able to communicate. Anybody remember the story of where that happened?

The Tower of Babel. Its the story of Babylon. Well, on the day of Pentecost, God pours out His spirit. And instead of people building a tower to get up to God, God sends His Spirit down to them. And people who had been divided, from different places and different languages, they become- through the power of the Spirit - able to communicate. They become one. God breaks through the barriers.

What went wrong at Babylon went right at Pentecost. What went wrong at Babylon - the spirit of pride and arrogance that led to divisiveness and the loss of community - it went right at Pentecost, and God poured out His Spirit. And so, from the day of Pentecost on, this is the age of the Spirit. * The ‘Age of the Spirit’ is also the ‘Age of the Church’ The church has always been designed to be a Spirit-led, Spirit-inspired, Spirit-directed church. A church without the Spirit is a religious club, in both senses of the word: * ‘club’, meaning a powerless association of people with an insignificant purpose * ‘club’ in the sense of something to beat people over the head with, and inflict pain

Truthfully, we tend to be drawn to the attention-getting aspects of spirituality. For instance, suppose there were two churches. And in 1 of them, people started giving money away to the poor. They sold their houses, they simplified their lifestyles, they devoted themselves to the poor. Then suppose there was another church where people in the church just started levitating -bodies started levitating, because God could do that. I’m not saying that He has or that He does, I’m not suggesting that we should try. Just imagine for a moment that it happened. Which church would get the headlines? Which church would people want to go see? Yeah. But, which church would be showing evidence of the greatest work of the Holy Spirit?

Jesus said at the beginning of His ministry, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; He has anointed Me’ and here’s the 1st sign of the age of the Spirit: "to proclaim Good News to the poor." The age of the Spirit, the age of the church is much more defined by that kind of work, than by levitation, or its cousins... which I’ll get into a bit later. This doesn’t mean that the Spirit always manifests Himself in the same way, at all times, in all places.

2. The Activity of the Spirit How do we become people who are able to discern the presence and activity of the spirit? Go to Galatians 5. While you’re turning there, 1 John 4:1 says we’re to test the spirits –we’re to practice discernment. And this is critical, because if we can get clarity on this, we’ll b able to handle all kinds of issues. OK Gal 5:22. Paul’s been talking about living in the Spirit as opposed to living by the flesh, and of course, if people are going to do that, they need to know what life in the Spirit looks like, right? V 22-23

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