Summary: Why should someone seek to be filled with the HS? What difference does it really make in a person’s life? Are we supposed to seek something more than forgiveness? Is there more that God wants to do in our lives and through us? Let's look at God's word.

Spirit-Filled Eastern Oregonians

-We focused on the baptism in the Holy Spirit last week, but what difference does it make? Why should someone seek to be filled with the HS? What difference does it really make in a person’s life? Some would say that we are baptized or filled with the HS when we repent and call on the Lord to forgive us and put our names in the book of life. What does the Bible say to us on the issue? Are we supposed to seek something more than being forgiven? Is there more that God wants to do in our lives and through us?

-I’d like to tackle a few of these questions and pray that the Lord will shine His light on this word and into our hearts and minds today so we can confidently seek all that He has for us.

1. Background

-In the early 1900’s a major revival began in Los Angeles. It became known as the Azusa Street Revival. What the Holy Spirit did there was really quite revolutionary for its time. Here is what Dr. Gary McGee of the Assemblies of God writes about Azusa St.:

According to the Los Angeles Times, a bizarre new religious sect had started with people “breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand.” Furthermore, “Devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories, and work themselves into a state of mad excitement.”

If that didn’t grab the reader’s attention, the article continued by saying that, “Colored people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation, and night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howlings of the worshippers who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve-racking attitude of prayer and supplication.” To top it all off, they claimed to have received the “gift of tongues,” and what’s more, “comprehend the babel.”

Nonetheless, for the spiritually hungry who came from far and wide to receive their Pentecost, “the very atmosphere of heaven” had descended, according to one. A visiting Baptist pastor said, “The Holy Spirit fell upon me and filled me literally, as it seemed to lift me up, for indeed, I was in the air in an instant, shouting, ’Praise God,’ and instantly I began to speak in another language. I could not have been more surprised if at the same moment someone had handed me a million dollars.”

Little could the subscribers of the Times have guessed that in years to come, historians would say that the Azusa Street revival played a major role in the development of modern Pentecostalism—a Movement that changed the religious landscape and became the most vibrant force for world evangelization in the 20th century. Azusa Street became the most significant revival of the century in terms of global perspective. [McGee, Gary]

-Let me just say that Pentecostalism has not until more recent times enjoyed the favor of the world or of most non-Pentecostal denominations. You might wonder why, but it may be the age-old human tendency to demonize what we don’t understand. If people don’t understand what speaking in tongues and other such “strange” behavior is all about, then they fear it and/or reject it. So, why did early Pentecostals risk being made fun of and gaining a reputation of being a bunch of wild and crazy fanatics? I think it was because they were desperate for the presence of God, and really believed that God wanted to do for them what He had done for the believers in the book of Acts.

-I am not suggesting that everything that went on at Azusa St. was proper or necessarily of the Holy Spirit. However, I do see a group of humble people who knew they were nothing without God and His Spirit. They knew that they had very little to offer on their own, which is why they wanted to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit. They knew that God’s power would come with the presence of the Holy Spirit.

-Since that time, Pentecostalism has circled the globe and millions of people around the world have come to know the experience of Acts 2. There are a lot of questions that we may never know the answers to until heaven. For example, why was the baptism in the Holy Spirit almost unheard of from the 2nd century to the 20th century? Some Christian historians point out that there were always a few who were Spirit-filled throughout the history of the church. However, it became the exception, rather than the norm. There are isolated reports of people speaking in other tongues and being used by God in miraculous ways to spread the gospel. Some would say the gifts and miracles of Acts and Corinthians were only for the 1st century church to become established. Once the canon of Scripture was completed, then those things were not needed any longer.

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