Summary: Many things are done that are attributed to the Spirit, but He did not do them. Discernment is needed.
The Holy Spirit is Not A Side Show Act
When I was a new Christian I latched on to anything that had Christian in it. I had every part of Jesus Christ Superstar memorized. Then I found out it was written by a Jew and an atheist and was not meant to be a worship album albeit some churches still have their choirs perform it. I also sang along with Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Salvation Show.” Not sure what the songwriter’s or Neil’s intent was as it could be a fond memory of such meetings or a mockery. I am afraid that some have tried to make the Holy Spirit some sort of circus side show act. You cannot promise miracles and healings will happen because Paul left Trophimus was left at Miletum sick rather than immediately healed. There are many things that go on that may make a meeting exciting or theatrical, but I am fairly sure it is not the fruit of the Spirit.
I have been reading through Acts as my personal devotions and some things have caught my eye since the Lord gave me the last message I preached. I am going to share a few verses that speak to the kinds of things that happen when the Holy Ghost moves or people are full of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Obviously, this is a very familiar passage and in essence a keystone passage for Pentecostals. Yet, I think we often get caught in up the fact of tongues, but fail to see what was going on. The very first act of the Spirit was to fill the 120 in the room, but the second act was to get them into the street and evangelize. Too often we want the Spirit to fill us to solve some problem, bring us a sense of ecstasy or something else personal.
Jesus told them that they would receive power when the Holy Ghost came upon them. Indeed, what was that power for? Here it is clearly to win souls as a start of the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Did they feel goosebumps or joy? I am sure there was some joy, but that joy translated into service that is near and dear to God as it is what Jesus came to do. Seek and save those that are lost. It was power for service, not pew sitting.
It was power for preaching. Peter spoke like he never did before. He had denied Christ for fear of three people and now he is boldly preaching in front of three thousand. He had never been to a homiletic or expository preaching class, but he was getting truth out and it was convicting the people to repentance, not rebellion because the Spirit was all over the audience.
Sometimes, the Spirit empowering your message will get some people saved and some mad. John Wesley asked his preacher boys two questions after they came back from a preaching opportunity. “Did anyone get saved?” If they answered no, he asked, “Did anyone get mad?” If they answered no, he told them to go home because they were not called to preach because preaching will lead to salvations or anger. He did not believe true preaching would leave someone apathetic.
Peter in chapter four led five thousand to the Lord before he was arrested by religious elite. Sometimes the ones that should be the most open to a Spirit empowered sermon are the ones most against it. When William Carey, the father of modern missions, addressed a board for support they told him to “Sit down, you miserable enthusiast!” Fortunately, for many souls he did not sit down and shut up.
Act 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
Act 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,…
Peter was full of the Holy Ghost and again faced a body of people that were anti-Christ and the Gospel without fear. Boldness in the face of enemies is a normal result of the Spirit being in control of a saint.