Summary: Third in a series on the early church. The second of a two-part message on how to get plugged into the power of the Holy Spirit.
“It is a sin to be good if God has called us to be great.”
Two weeks ago we began a journey to see how God can take our church from good to great. In Acts Chapter 1, we saw that Jesus commanded his followers to wait for the power that would come upon them when they received the Holy Spirit. But while they waited, they didn’t just sitting around doing nothing.
• They persisted in prayer
• They studied the Scriptures
• They proceeded with preparations
Last week, we began to look at Chapter 2 where the followers of Jesus Christ plugged into the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s read that passage again just to refresh our memories.
Read Acts 2:1-21
Last week you’ll remember that we focused on four aspects of the Holy Spirit’s relationship with the followers of Jesus Christ:
HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT RELATES TO US
The first three aspects of that relationship all occur at the moment we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior:
1. We are baptized with Him
2. He seals us
3. He indwells us
All three of those actions are initiated and carried out by God. God never commands us to ask for Him to do any of these three actions, because He has already done that in our lives if we have made a decision to make Jesus the Lord and Savior of our lives.
But as you’ll recall, the fourth aspect of our relationship with the Holy Spirit does require our participation in the process:
4. He fills us
As we saw last week, we have a command related to the filling of the Holy
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 (NIV)
So it seems that since we’ve been given a command, there are some things God expects us to do as part of that process. And that’s where I’d like us to focus this week, because I’m convinced that the way we plug into God’s power, both as a church and as individuals is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
This week I spent some time looking through all the passages that refer to people being filled with the Holy Spirit. Although I’m not sure that I was able to find every such passage, here are the instances I found in the New Testament where people were filled by the Holy Spirit.
• An angel told Zechariah that John the Baptist would be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15)
• John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were both filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41, 67)
• Jesus was described as being full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1)
• When Peter and John are arrested, Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8)
• When the apostles picked the first deacons, they picked men who were full of the Spirit (Acts 6:3, 5)
• When Steven was martyred, he was full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:55)
• When Barnabas was sent to Antioch, he is described as being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:24)
• Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit after his Damascus Road conversion (Acts 9:17, 13:9)
Although every one of these experiences is quite different in many ways, there are some common characteristics among these encounters:
ATTRIBUTES OF THE FILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
• It is all God’s work
Every time the New Testament describes a filling of the Holy Spirit, a passive verb is used. That means that the person being filled is not doing the filling him or herself. It is God who does the filling as He chooses. So in that sense, the filling of the Spirit is similar to the baptism, sealing and indwelling of the Spirit – it is not something we can do on our own.
Even when Paul gives the commandment in Ephesians 5, you’ll notice that he uses a passive verb, too:
Even though we have a part in the process, the work of filling is still all God’s and we are completely dependent on Him to do that in our lives.
• It is temporary
In the New Testament, the filling of the Spirit seems to be similar to the way the Holy Spirit operated in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit fills an individual or a group of individuals for a specific period of time in order to accomplish a specific purpose. That’s why I take the position that the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was more of a filling than an indwelling.