Praying til Pentecost Day 48
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit..." Acts 2:4
These simple words have caused a great deal of discussion. They mean what they say, but what do they mean? There are some who believe the Holy Spirit is a liquid additive who can be used up or evaporate over time. They teach that a person must be constantly taking in more and more of the Spirit or they will be empty of His Presence. Others teach that a believer does not need more of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit needs more of the believer. They offer the concept that the Holy Spirit enters in all His fullness into the heart of the believer at the new birth. They say that the responsibility of the believer is to offer the Holy Spirit constant and consistent access to every room of His heart if they want to know His fullness. Some hold a theological position that teaches there is no evidence of the Holy Spirit's Presence unless a believer can give evidence of their ability to speak in other tongues. Some say that this manifestation of tongues ceased in the first century, and to add anything to the saving work of Christ as a sign of His finished work on the cross is tantamount to heresy.
Words do mean something. Too often their definitions are ignored or they trigger a misunderstanding that leads to conflict with people we love. As a boy, I laughed at a cartoon I once saw in a Reader's Digest magazine. It pictured two men at a bar. One of the men was a big Texan in a cowboy hat who was pounding the daylights out of the other man dressed in a business suit. The man being attacked by the Texan had made an insulting remark. The caption read, "I said, 'I hate TAXES! I hate TAXES!' " There was an obvious misunderstanding between the two men. The man being pounded at the bar had said something that he sincerely meant, but it was not said with a hint of insult. To the man who overheard his remark, it was insulting all the same. See what I mean my misunderstanding. You have to wear a hard had when talking about the Holy Spirit. It is dangerous work.
Sometimes there are misunderstandings that happen even when good people try to offer up their description of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Much of the fog can be cleared away by a simple look at the Scripture record. When we bring cultural or theological prejudices to the text, the confusion and conflict begins afresh and anew.
The evidence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit is very clear. "But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them." (Acts 2:14) After Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, he began to speak boldly about the Person of Jesus Christ. The same man who had denied Jesus was transformed into a bold spokesperson for Him. The man who had led the disciples in the upper room in a ten day prayer meeting was empowered to speak to people about the crucified Christ. He was a changed man. A bragging coward had been turned into a courageous preacher. You can't make this stuff up!
The word used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit, "filled," is translated from the Greek word for "fill" which means literally or figuratively to imbue, to influence, to furnish or to supply. In the simplest language, the Holy Spirit exercised His influence over the praying disciples, and they in turn began to speak with "other tongues" so the people gathered in Jerusalem were able to hear the Gospel in their own language. This emphasis upon known languages being spoken by people who obviously did not know them made a profound impression on those who heard them do it.
The chain reaction of the Holy Spirit's work had begun. The text goes on the describe the response of those who heard the message of Peter and the other apostles.
- "Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
The Holy Spirit convicts people of their separation from God, but more importantly He leads them to do something about it.
- Peter said to them, "Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Repent means an about face, a turning around to the face of God, must take place in the life of the believer. Immediate obedience to the command of Christ to be baptized reveals evidence of this new sense of direction. The gift of the Holy Spirit cannot be received by people who are still moving in the wrong direction. It is not a change of vocabulary, but a change of direction that is evidence of the Spirit's fullness.
- "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."
The call of God is not limited by national boundaries or racial prejudices. God calls those who are far off to draw near to Him. Their response to His Word is evidence of the Spirit's work in their lives.
- "And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.' "
The voice of God remains the same regardless of the changing centuries or cultural complexities. He provides a way of escape from a sinking ship through the Person of the Holy Spirit.
What happened next in the lives of the early believers is a time capsule that must be explored to appreciate the unchanging work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people today.
- "So those who had received his word were baptized...
- They were continually devoting themselves
- to the apostles' teaching
- to fellowship,
- to the breaking of bread
- to prayer
- Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe, and many signs and wonders were taking place through the apostles
- had all things in common
- sharing with all, as anyone might have need
- day by day continuing with one mind in the temple
- breaking bread from house to house
- they were taking their meals together
- with sincerity and gladness of heart
- praising God and having favor with all the people.
- And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:41-47
Later, the Christ chosen apostle Paul expressed the influence of the Holy Spirit in this way...
- "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit..."
- Speaking to one another...
- In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs...
- Singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord...
- Always giving thanks For all things...
- In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ...
- To God, even the Father...
- And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." Ephesians 5:18-21
For a person to be filled with the Holy Spirit means that a believer is under the influence of a new authority in their life. Fullness is evidence of the Holy Spirit making a profound transformation in a person's sense of direction, their list of priorities, and the content of their character.