Something More Than Salvation
Many grave problems confront us in this day. Threatening clouds of a third world war are quickly gathering. The moral degradation of mankind is continually descending at an alarming and ever increasing rate. Our school system is infected with atheism. The pulpits are contaminated with men who do not believe in the Bible they preach nor in the power of the God they declare. Church rolls have been filled in large part with men and women who have never repented of their sins. But far sadder than all of these problems, is the tragic ineffectiveness, the lack of holiness, the want of power to be found in the lives of the true, born again children of God.
Something more than salvation is needed. The lives of the early Christians drew men to Christ even though conversion meant possible martyrdom. The Christians of our generation reveal nothing to a searching world for which she would lose her leisure - much less her life. Sincere believers repent of their sins, receive Christ; and yet show little fruitfulness. It is evident on every hand that Christians need something more than salvation.
Many major denominations diagnose the problem as intellectual and pour millions of dollars into teaching programs. Their adherents tread wearily to class after class; their heads growing full, but their hearts remaining empty.
Others exploit the problem and diagnose the ills of the church as unfaithfulness in giving. They declare you can "give" your way to happiness and spiritual prosperity. Hospitals full of seeking Christians conform to their treatment, and the "doctors" become richer while the patients become sicker.
Then there is the sincere, blind legalist who raises his banner which reads: "A busy Christian is a happy Christian." ''Try harder! Do better! It is your duty! More work!" He diagnoses every problem in terms of inactivity. "Have you been doing your best for Jesus? Have you been faithful to all the organizations?" he queries. Blindly ignoring the defeated lives of his followers, he marches his army on with the relentless lashes of legalism to inevitable defeat.
The emotionalist plans his service with rhythmic music "stirring messages" and offers altar workers who are proficient at heightening the "pitch" with chants and exhortations, assuring the victim that all will be well in his spiritual life if he just can get the "feeling". The next day the drained, disillusioned seeker is left with only his memory of a "great experience".
Also heard is the voice of the Pharisee which assures the searching soul that he is infected with "worldliness" and that there are "things" that must be given up. So one by one the worldly habits are given up, thus pruning his limbs and strengthening the root, making the end product a strong, hard, bitter Pharisee, whose latter end is worse than his beginning, and, whose life is as far different from Jesus Christ's as the Pharisees who crucified Him.
The ritualist confidently beckons to the solemn strains of the pipe organ and to anthems uselessly sung in tongues unknown. His followers sit, sing, stand, recite, kneel, and repeat like a gymnastics class. Their one hour routine, faithfully practiced every Sunday morning, profits their bodies little and their souls less.
God's solution to the impotency of the twentieth-century Christian is quite a contrast to all of these. In Ephesians 5:18-19 God says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;"
Note the extreme difference between God's solution and the solutions mankind offers. Man's solutions are all activity - men doing something for God. God's solution is receptivity - men receiving something from God: That essential something is the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
The filling of the Spirit is something more than salvation. When a man by faith claims salvation, the Holy Spirit comes into him. So, when a man by faith claims the filling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit takes possession of him and he is filled.
THE FILLING IS FORESHADOWED BY ISRAEL'S
ENTRANCE INTO CANAAN
Israel's journey from Egypt to Canaan depicts the two experiences every man needs. In 1 Corinthians, Paul characterized three kinds of men: the natural (unsaved) man, the carnal (saved but fleshly) man, and the spiritual (Spirit-filled) man (1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:1,3). These three men are clearly seen in the first six books of the Bible, as we follow Israel's journey. In Genesis is seen the natural, unsaved man, his heart evil continually, plunging into sin and finally falling into miserable bondage in Egypt. Just so, unsaved men have fallen into the bondage of Satan. In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy the children of Israel are a picture of the carnal man - saved but still suffering defeat at the hands of his flesh. Here Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years on an eleven-day journey and was miserable because she could not have the things she enjoyed in Egypt's bondage. The book of Joshua completes the analogy, depicting the spiritual man, living in a "land of milk and honey" and triumphing over all enemies.
Now note the two great crises that were necessary to Israel's possession of Canaan. The first, the crossing of the Red Sea, is a type of salvation. The "blood" was applied to the doorposts, thus delivering the children of Israel from the judgment of God. The power of the Lord opened the Red Sea, delivering them from the bondage of Pharaoh. So, in salvation the blood of Christ is applied when one believes, delivering him from the judgment of God. Then the power of the Lord delivers him from the bondage of sin.
The second crisis took place at the Jordan River. It is sad that some of Christendom's dearest hymns have been misleading in regard to the meaning of this Scripture. Crossing Jordan is not a picture of death, and Canaan is not a type of Heaven. Crossing Jordan is rather a type of the entrance into a Spirit-filled life - a life of joy and victory.
In Christ Jesus we are complete. We possess all things in Him from the moment of salvation. However, it is still a definite crisis when we enter in and possess our possessions. No Christian need wander on in the wilderness of defeat and doubt. From the moment we are filled with the Spirit, we enter a new life, a life in Canaan's land of milk and honey.
THE FILLING WAS A DEFINITE, KNOWABLE EXPERIENCE
ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples received something more than salvation. The one hundred and twenty who had faithfully waited for the promise of the Father, not only received the Holy Spirit, but were also filled with Him. No one would doubt that the apostles were already saved. The Spirit of the Lord had already come upon them, had performed miracles through them, and had aided them greatly. However, before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had not been given to dwell within or to fill them. The drastic contrast between present-day Christians and those in the book of Acts can only be explained by the filling of the Spirit.
It is interesting to read Jesus' promise regarding the Holy Spirit and to note a prominent omission of the time element. "And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).
Jesus tells them what they're to wait for and where they are to wait, but He does not tell them how long they are to wait - nor did He need to. When they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they knew it: and the world knew it also, for the filling is a knowable experience. The man who is filled will be conscious of a drastic transformation in his life.
PAUL RECEIVED A DEFINITE FILLING WITH THE SPIRIT
THREE DAYS AFTER HE WAS SAVED
The most dramatic conversion ever recorded took place on the road to Damascus. The man involved was seeking to wipe out the Christians and had effected the death of Stephen. One would have never guessed he was destined to become the flaming Apostle Paul. (Acts 9:3-6).
Three days after Saul's conversion, Ananias was directed by the Lord to: "Go to the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus" (Acts 9:11).
When Ananias arrived, he declared plainly the reason for his visit. "Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou earnest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 9:17).
Ananias' language indicates that God had revealed to him that Saul had been saved, for he addressed him as "Brother". But conversion alone is not enough, even though it be a dramatic one like Saul's. The apostle must also be filled with the Spirit.
THE EPHESIANS WERE FILLED AFTER THEY WERE SAVED
In the Apostle Paul's ministry the Holy Ghost was the issue. He asks this small group of believers if they had "received the Holy Ghost." Instead of organization, publicity, etc., Paul begins his revival in Ephesus by confronting the church with this matter.
Finding they have only the baptism of John, Paul explains the gospel of Christ to them, and they are baptized. Afterwards, Paul laid his hands on them; prayed, and they were filled with the Spirit.
PAUL ADMONISHES "CHRISTIANS"
TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Here Paul exhorts them to something more than being, "Fellowcitizens with the saints and of the household of God:" (Ephesians 2:19).
They must also be filled with the Holy Spirit. And these words are not only for the Ephesians, they are for every Christian. We must have something more than salvation. We must be filled with the Spirit.
In Bible Times
The greatness of the lives of Bible Christians cannot be understood apart from the working of the Holy Spirit. Inestimable damage has been done to the body of Christ by the idea of imitation. Many lives are thereby wasted "trying to imitate" the great people of the Bible instead of "trusting the Holy Spirit" to do in them what He did in the lives of those they would be like. God is eager to work in our lives as He did in the lives of the great Christians of Bible days. We must stop imitating them, and let God fill us with the Spirit as they did.
The importance of the filling of the Holy Spirit is very evident in the lives of these men of God:
BEZALEEL, THE FURNISHER OF THE TABERNACLE,
WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
God filled Bezaleel with the Spirit for the purpose of furnishing and ornamenting the Tabernacle which God would hallow with His majestic presence. The Spirit gave him the necessary wisdom and skill to perform his task.
JOSHUA, THE CONQUEROR OF CANAAN,
WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Prior to his assuming command of the nation, Joshua was filled with the Spirit. "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the Spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him." (Deuteronomy 34:9).
The Holy Spirit imparted to Joshua the courage, faith, and wisdom necessary to lead the nation of Israel to victory over the wicked inhabitants of Canaan. Joshua was able to perform a task that was humanly impossible because he was with One who knows no impossibilities!
JOHN THE BAPTIST, CHRIST'S FORERUNNER,
WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
"The greatest man born of woman, save he that is least in the kingdom of heaven." These were the words Jesus spoke of John the Baptist. God called this man to the great task of preparing the world for the coming of Jesus. The faithful servant, clothed in cheap "camel's hair" and eating locusts and wild honey, stood on the banks of the river Jordan and multitudes came from the cities to hear him preach. John faithfully proclaimed the stern message of repentance and turned many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. The world could not bear the message of repentance for long and John was beheaded. His death ended the earthly life of the man who was "great in the sight of God." However, the secret of John's greatness was not buried with him. It is recorded in the prophecy the angels proclaimed prior to his birth (Luke 1:14-17).
This is the secret of his greatness - he was "filled with the Holy Ghost."
ZACHARIAS, THE MIRACLE PRIEST,
WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Zacharias was a Jew who faithfully served God as a priest in the temple. One day an angel came and told him that he and his wife Elisabeth were going to have a child, even though they were stricken in years and Elisabeth was barren. Zacharias did not believe it, and God struck him speechless until his eyes saw it come to pass. The angel's message was fulfilled the day John the Baptist was born to Elisabeth; whereupon God opened Zacharias' mouth and filled him with the Spirit that he might prophesy of the wonderful Redeemer - the Redeemer whose coming was to be announced by Zacharias' son (Luke 1:67-68).
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, OUR SAVIOUR,
WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
To know that Jesus, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit, makes the filling of the Spirit a sweeter experience to those who love our Lord Jesus. On the eve of our Lord's ministry, at His baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Him. "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matthew 3:16).
Following this, our Lord went up into the mountain to encounter the temptations of Satan for forty days and nights. The Scripture records: "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness" (Luke 4:1).
Jesus commenced His ministry only after being filled with the Holy Spirit, thereby leaving us an example that we should walk therein.
PETER, THE GREAT EVANGELIST,
WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
The apostle Peter's natural weakness was clearly displayed when he denied his Lord thrice for fear of losing his life. However, after the Holy Spirit filled Peter, he became the boldest evangelist of New Testament times. His words smote men like a sword, and through his bold preaching, thousands were converted to the Lord Jesus.
How can a man as weak as Peter be instantaneously transformed into a lion? How can a powerless man become a dynamo? This is the answer: "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them" (Acts 4:8).
DEACONS WORKING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
WERE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
The devil had been working from without against the early church, but in the sixth chapter of Acts we read how he began to stir up trouble from within. Satan convinced some of the women that they were being "neglected" and there arose a "murmuring" within the fellowship. The disciples told the church to select seven men to see after this important matter and demanded they be men who were filled with the Holy Spirit. "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:3-4).
The seven Spirit-filled men saved the church from possible catastrophe, and we find no further record of this trouble.
STEPHEN, THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MARTYR,
WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Stephen - the man who was honored to be the first to give his life for the sweet Lord Jesus: who died so much like his Master, praying with his last breath for the forgiveness of his murderers, whose memory will ever live in the hearts of Christians - Stephen, too, was filled with the Spirit. The Scripture says he was: "Full of faith and of the Holy Ghost..." (Acts 6:5).
Stephen was a man who loved Jesus enough not to care for his own life, and he loved men enough to tell them the truth, regardless of their reactions. In defense of his doctrines before the council he boldly declared: "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51).
Unable to bear this they: "...were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:54-55).
In Post-Bible Times
Our Lord promised to "pour out of my Spirit on all flesh." This promise is not restricted to the great Christians of Bible times. F. B. Meyer wisely states, "The book of Acts is a book without any ending." The acts of Spirit-filled disciples right on to this present age. Nothing is more convincing regarding our need of the "filling of the Spirit" than knowing the part that this experience has played in the life of great Christians of post-Bible days.
THE MORAVIAN MOVEMENT WAS MOTIVATED
BY THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT
The Moravian movement was begun by a few men who believed in, sought, claimed, and experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit. The stirring account of their experience is recorded by Rev. John Greenfield, a Moravian missionary, in his book, "Power From on High."
"God says: 'It shall come to pass - I will pour.' This was His promise through the prophet Joel. The first fulfillment of this promise was on the day of Pentecost. There is nothing in the New Testament to indicate that this was to be the one and only fulfillment of this promise. On the contrary, we read in the book of Acts of many outpourings of the Holy Spirit, as in Samaria (8:14-17) as in Ephesus (19:1-7) and even in the case of the Gentiles (10:44-46). Church history also abounds in records of special outpourings of the Holy Ghost, and verily the thirteenth of August 1727, was a day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We saw the hand of God and His wonders, and we were all under the cloud of our fathers baptized with their Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst. From that time scarcely a day passed but what we beheld His almighty workings amongst us. A great hunger after the Word of God took possession of us so that we had to have three services every day, viz. 5:00 and 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Every one desired above everything else that the Holy Spirit might have full control. Self-love and self-will, as well as all disobedience, disappeared and an overwhelming flood of grace swept us all out into the great ocean of Divine Love."
Exactly what happened that Wednesday forenoon, August 13, 1727, in the specially called communion service at Berthelsdorf, none of the participants could fully describe. They left the house of God that noon "hardly knowing whether they belonged to earth or had already gone to Heaven." Count Zinzendorf gave the following account of it a number of years afterwards to a British audience.
"We needed to come to the Communion with a sense of the loving nearness of the Saviour. This was the great comfort which has made this day a generation ago to be a festival, because on this day twenty-seven years ago the Congregation of Herrnhut, assembled for communion (at the Berthelsdorf church) were all dissatisfied with themselves. They had quit judging each other because they had become convinced, each one, of his lack of worth in the sight of God and each felt himself at this Communion to be in view of the noble countenance of the Saviour.
"In this view of the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, their hearts told them that He would be their patron and their priest who was at once changing their tears into oil of gladness and their misery into happiness. This firm confidence changed them in a single moment into a happy people which they are to this day, and into their happiness they have since led many thousands of others through the memory and the help which the heavenly grace once given to themselves, so many thousand times confirmed to them since then.
"The history of the Moravian Church confirms the doctrine of the great American evangelist as to the need and possibility of the baptism with the Holy Ghost. The spiritual experiences of the Moravian Brethren two centuries ago bear a striking resemblance to the Pentecostal power and results in the days of the Apostles. The company of believers both at Jerusalem and Herrnhut number fewer than three hundred souls. Both congregations were, humanly speaking, totally devoid of worldly influence, wisdom, power and wealth. Their enemies called them "unlearned and ignorant."
"On both these small and weak congregations God poured out His Holy Spirit and endued them with power from on high. At once these believers, naturally timid and fearful, were transformed into flaming evangelists. Supernatural knowledge and power seemed to possess them. ''Mouth and wisdom" were given them which "none of their adversaries were able to gainsay or resist." Opposition and persecution scattered the Jerusalem congregations but could not silence their testimony (Acts 8:4). Similar experiences were the lot of the Moravian brethren. Sprung from the labours and martyr-death of the great Bohemian Reformer, John Huss, "the brethren" had passed through centuries of persecution. Many had sealed their testimony with their blood. Imprisonment, torture and banishment had caused them to forsake the homes of their fathers and flee for refuge to Germany where a young Christian nobleman, Count Zinzendorf, offered them an asylum on his estates in Saxony. They named their new home Herrnhut, the Lord's Watch, and from this place, after their baptisms with the Holy Spirit, they became the world's evangelists and missionaries.
"Fifty years before the beginning of modern Foreign Missions by William Carey, the Moravian Church had led the way into pagan countries both by precept and example. Their English missionary magazine, Periodical Accounts, inspired Dr. Carey, and in a meeting of his Baptist brethren he threw a copy of the paper on a table with these memorable and historic words: "See what the Moravians have done! Cannot we follow their example and in obedience to our Heavenly Master go out into the world, and preach the Gospel to the heathen?"
So generally has the leadership of the Moravian Church in Foreign Missions been recognized that the well-known German historian of Protestant Missions, Dr. Warneck, testifies: "This small Church in twenty years called into being more missions than the whole Evangelical Church has done in two centuries."
CHARLES FINNEY WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Charles G. Finney was one of the world's outstanding revivalists. Finney was a firebrand in the hand of Jehovah used to ignite revival throughout the United States in the nineteenth century. Finney testified to the impact that the power of the Spirit's fullness made in his own life. To him there was no question about a definite second experience. Finney declared: "I was powerfully converted on the morning of the 10th of October, 1821. In the evening of the same day I received overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Ghost, that went through me, as it seemed to me, body and soul. I immediately found myself endued with such power from on high that a few words dropped here and there to individuals were the means of their immediate conversion. My words seemed to fasten like barbed arrows in the souls of men. They cut like a sword. They broke the heart like a hammer. Multitudes can attest to this. Oftentimes a word dropped without my remembering it would fasten conviction, and often result in almost immediate conversion. Sometimes I would find myself, in a great measure, empty of this power. I would go and visit, and find that I made no saving impression. I would exhort and pray, with the same result. I would then set apart a day for private fasting and prayer, fearing that this power had departed from me, and would inquire anxiously after the reason of this apparent emptiness. After humbling myself and crying out for help, the power would return upon me with all its freshness. This had been the experience of my life.
"This power is a great marvel. I have many times seen people unable to endure the Word. The most simple and ordinary statements would cut men off their seats like a sword, would take away their strength, and render them almost helpless as dead men. Several times it has been true in my experience that I could not raise my voice, or say anything in prayer or exhortation, except in the mildest manner, without overcoming them. This power seems sometimes to pervade the atmosphere of the one who is highly charged with it. Many times great numbers of persons in a community will be clothed with this power when the very atmosphere of the whole place seems to be charged with the life of God. Strangers coming into it, and passing through the place will be instantly smitten with conviction of sin and in many instances converted to Christ. When Christians humble themselves and consecrate their all afresh to Christ, and ask for this power, they will often receive such a baptism that they will be instrumental in converting more souls in one day than in all their lifetime before. While Christians remain humble enough to retain this power, the work of conversion will go on, till whole communities and regions of the country are converted to Christ. The same is true of the ministry."
Again from the autobiography of Charles G. Finney we read: "As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face!!! He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at His feet. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance...As I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost...No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept with joy and love."
EVANS ROBERTS WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
In Wales there was a work of the Holy Ghost strikingly similar to Pentecost. Services were conducted continually in some churches for around two years. Thousands of the coal miners had the blasphemy within their hearts replaced with hymns of praise to the Lamb as the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts. Jails were emptied in Wales, and some judges did not try a case in a year's time. This moral, social and spiritual revolution had its beginning in the bosom of a young man named Evans Roberts. The revival began the day Evans Roberts was filled with the Spirit. Dr. Oswald J. Smith relates his experience in the book "The Revival We Need," on pages 42 and 43.
"For thirteen years," writes Evans Roberts, "I had prayed for the Spirit; and this is the way I was led to pray. William Davies, the deacon, said one night in the society: Remember to be faithful. What if the Spirit descended and you were absent? Remember Thomas! What a loss he had!"
"I said to myself: I will have the Spirit, and through every kind of weather and in spite of all difficulties, I went to the meetings. Many times, on seeing other boys with the boats on the tide, I was tempted to turn back and join them. But, no, I said to myself: Remember your resolve, and on I went. I went faithfully to the meetings for prayer throughout the ten or eleven years I prayed for a Revival. It was the Spirit that moved me thus to think."
At a certain morning meeting which Evans Roberts attended, the evangelist, in one of his petitions, besought that the Lord would "bend us." The Spirit seemed to say to Roberts: "That's what you need - to be bent." And thus he describes his experience: "I felt a living force coming into my bosom. This grew and grew, and I was almost bursting. My bosom was boiling. What boiled in me was that verse: God commending His love. I fell on my knees and with my arms over the seat in front of me the tears and perspiration flowed freely. I thought blood was gushing forth." Certain friends approached to wipe his face. Meanwhile he was crying out, "O Lord, bend me! Bend me!" Then suddenly the glory broke.
Mr. Roberts adds: "After I was bent, a wave of peace came over me: the audience sang, "I Hear Thy Welcome Voice" and as they sang, I thought about the bending at the Judgment Day, and I was filled with compassion for those that would have to bend on that day, and I wept."
"Henceforth, the salvation of souls became the burden of my heart. From that time I was on fire with a desire to go through all Wales, and if it were possible, I was willing to pay God for the privilege of going. "
R. A. TORREY WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
The name of R. A. Torrey will long live in the memory of God's people. This great Bible teacher and evangelist wrote several books that are classics among Christian literature. In the later years of his life he entered the field of evangelism and saw tens of thousands of people converted under his ministry. He saw 80,000 come to Christ during his three years of ministry in England. This was typical of the success he enjoyed in campaigns in America and Australia.
Dr. Torrey recorded his filling of the Spirit in his book, "The Holy Spirit: Who He Is, and What He Does," relating: "The address of this afternoon, and the addresses of the days immediately to follow, are the outcome of an experience, and that experience was the outcome of a study of the Word of God. After I had been a Christian for some years, an after I had been in the ministry for some years, my attention was strongly attracted to certain phrases found in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles, such as "Baptized with the Holy Spirit," "Filled with the Spirit," "The Holy Spirit fell upon them," "The gift of the Holy Spirit," "Endued with power from on high," and other closely allied phrases. As I studied these various phrases in their context, it became clear to me that they all stood for essentially the same experience; and it also became clear to me that God has provided for each child of His in the present dispensation that he should be thus "baptized with the Spirit," or, "filled with the Spirit."
As I studied the subject still further, I became convinced that they described an experience which I did not myself possess, and I went to work to secure for myself the experience thus described. I sought earnestly that I might be baptized with the Holy Spirit. I went at it very ignorantly. I have often wondered if anyone ever went at it any more ignorantly than I did. But while I was ignorant, I was thoroughly sincere and in earnest, and God met me, as He always meets the sincere and earnest soul, no matter how ignorant he may be; and God gave me what I sought, I was "baptized with the Holy Spirit." And the result was a transformed Christian life and a transformed ministry."
D. L. MOODY WAS FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
D. L. Moody, while speaking at Northfield, related the following experience: "This blessing came upon me suddenly - like a flash of lightning. For months I had been hungering and thirsting for power in service. I had come to that point that I think I would have died if I had not got it. I remember I was walking in the streets of New York. I had more heart in the business I was about than if I had not belonged to this world at all. Right there on the street the power of God seemed to come upon me. I was filled with a sense of God's goodness and felt as though I could take the whole world to my heart. I took the old sermon that I had preached before without any power; it was the same old truth, but there was a new power. Many were impressed and converted.
This happened years after I was converted myself. It was in the fall of 1871. I had been very anxious to have a large Sunday school and a large congregation, but there were few conversions. I remember I used to take pride in having the largest congregation in Chicago on a Sunday night. Two godly women used to come and hear me. One of them came to me one night after I had preached very satisfactorily as I thought. I fancied she was going to congratulate me on my success, but she said, we are praying for you. I wondered if I had made some blunder that they talked that way.
Next Sunday night they were there again, evidently in prayer while I was preaching. One of them said, we are still praying for you. I could not understand it, and said: Praying for me! Why don't you pray for the people? I am all right. Ah, they said, you are not all right. You have not got power; there is something lacking, but God can qualify you. I did not like it at first, but I got to thinking it over, and after a little time I began to feel a desire to have what they were praying for. They continued to pray for me, and the result was that at the end of three months God sent this blessing on me.
I would not for the whole world go back to where I was before 1871. Since then I have never lost the assurance that I am walking in communion with God, and I have a joy in his service that sustains me and makes it easy work. I believe I was an older man then than I am now; and I have been growing ever since. I used to be very tired when preaching three times a week; now I can preach the gospel five times a day and never get tired at all. I have done three times the work I did before, and it gets better and better every year. It is so easy to do a thing when love prompts you. It would be better, it seems to me, to go and break stones than to take to preaching in a professional spirit. A man can accomplish more in one year with this power than he can do in forty years without it. Jonathan Edwards said he was able to do more in Northampton in one week than he did in seven years before the Spirit of God came upon him for service."
This is the secret; the filling of the Holy Spirit. The outstanding men, men who have stirred the world for God, testify to it.
What It Means
In view of the great importance of being filled with the Spirit, we are wise to study the implication of this subject. Many have fallen into the snare of Satan, even though they possessed great zeal to be filled with the Spirit. They were willing to pay any price to attain the filling, but their zeal was not according to knowledge. The only rewards awaiting the zealous who do not walk the road of knowledge are: deception, delusion, despair and disastrous defeat. It is essential to understand precisely what God means when He says: "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:19). In essence it is being in a continual state of possession by the Person of the Holy Spirit.
CONTINUOUS CONTROL BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
The filling of the Holy Spirit is not just a crisis we experience, but it is a state of continuous control by the Holy Spirit. Note that God does not say, "Get filled with the Spirit." Rather, He says, "Be filled with the Spirit."
A brother who possessed insight into this truth once declared, "It isn't how high you jump, but how straight you walk."
The filling of the Spirit is most assuredly a crisis: but that is not all it is. The filling is also a state we must be diligent in maintaining. Consider marriage as an example. How often do you hear some one ask, "Did you ever get married?" Isn't the customary question rather, "Are you married?" Now no one would deny that marriage is a crisis when we come together at the altar; however, we would find just as much agreement that marriage is also a state which a person must remain in after the crisis. The filling is a crisis at the moment of surrender and acceptance, but it must also be a state that goes on day after day.
Charles Inwood states, "There is no such thing as a once-for-all fullness: it is a continuous appropriation of a continuous supply from Jesus Christ Himself; a moment-by-moment faith in a moment-by-moment filling. As I trust Him, He fills me: so long as I trust Him, He fills me; the moment I begin to believe, that moment I begin to receive; and so long as I keep believing, praise the Lord, so long I keep receiving."
Oswalt Sanders, the director of the China Inland Missions, declared, "There is no such thing as a once-for-all fullness. We may and should be filled with the Spirit again and again. The experience of the disciples so soon after Pentecost is deeply significant (Acts 2:4; 4:8,31). Note that Peter is present on each of these occasions. Whenever we become conscious of our need of a fresh filling, we should immediately by prayer and faith appropriate a fresh filling.
Charles Finney, the great revivalist, said that often after he was filled he would feel the absence of the Lord's power in his witness and would withdraw and spend a day in fasting and prayer. The power would be restored and he would go about his work again.
What would Pentecost have meant if the disciples had gone back home and merely sat around talking about their great "baptism?" The only reason their experience meant anything to the Kingdom of God, was they ardently pressed forward in holiness, in witnessing and in following His steps to Calvary.
The only thing more nauseating to Jehovah God than the man who says he is saved and persists in his worldly ways, is the professor who testifies to having been "filled with the Spirit" and goes back to walk as the man of the world.
The beauty of this blessed experience has been tarnished by those who professed to be filled with the Spirit and did not continue on in righteousness. Many are proud of themselves after their "filling" and sit down quite contentedly. Their lives are void of spiritual fruit, their world goes to hell and their Christ suffers continual shame, but that means nothing to them. Why, they were once "filled with the Spirit."
Oh worldling, do not read this and smile to yourself as though you know what it means to be filled with the Spirit. A thousand shames upon you who have tasted of the fruit of Canaan and gone back to the wilderness.
It was a disgraceful thing that the unconverted Saul persecuted the church. But how much more disgraceful was it, that he lost his temper before the high priest after being filled with the Spirit. It was a dark crime for Peter to betray his Lord after being committed to following Him. But how much darker was his cowardice in refusing to let his Jewish brethren see him eating with Gentiles, after being filled with the Spirit. Oh, how great is the responsibility of those who have once been filled with the Spirit to always be filled.
"Be filled with the Spirit." In all places, under all circumstances, at all times, "Be filled with the Spirit." When the world mocks you, as it did the apostles on the day of Pentecost, calling them drunkards, "Be filled with the Spirit." When your brethren turn against you, as they did Paul, "Be filled with the Spirit." When your own loved ones are ashamed of you, as were the members of Jesus' family, "Be filled with the Spirit." When the stones are cast upon you, as they were on Stephen, when you are called upon to suffer the loss of all things, still, "Be filled with the Spirit."
SPIRITUAL SUBJECTION TO THE SPIRIT
To be filled with the Spirit means to be in subjection to the Spirit. It means to be completely obedient to and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
"The phrase expresses a special and mighty inflow of divine life and power into the spirit of the believer, in answer to full surrender and faith. We must guard against the conception of the Holy Spirit as a substance to fill an empty vessel. A better illustration would be that of a house and its owner. The Holy Spirit is to occupy and control the life of the believer whom He fills, just as the owner occupies and controls the house in which he lives. But even this illustration falls short, for He is rather a Person to control another personality, "writes Oswalt Sanders.
The Holy Spirit is living within every child of God (1 Corinthians 3:16); however, the Spirit does not maintain continual and complete control of every one of God's children. If we are saved, we have the Spirit (Romans 8:9). If we are filled, the Spirit has us.
At salvation, the Holy Spirit comes in to abide (John 14:16). At the filling, the Holy Spirit takes over to preside.
Ephesians 5:18 says, "Do not be filled and controlled by wine, but do be filled and controlled by the Spirit." To be drunk with wine means to be completely controlled by wine. The drunk is so completely possessed by the spirits, he can enjoy doing things he would despise when sober. When one is intoxicated, inhibitions decline and standards of decency tend to disappear. He is wholly under the influence of the wine. He is another man. His safety, enjoyments, benefits, family, and obligations cannot prevent his obeying the wine. The Spirit-filled man is just as completely possessed by the Holy Spirit.
Most of those who seek to be filled with the Spirit, never attain it simply because they think the filling consists of their coming to possess more of the Holy Spirit. Quite to the contrary, it is the Holy Spirit coming to possess more of them.
How often we see the false seeker, in the vanity of his heart, trying to "get more of the Spirit." He is actually trying to bring the Holy Spirit more into subjection to himself. This is the exact opposite course from that taken by the true seeker who desires to be brought into complete subjection to the Spirit.
Proud "self" leaves no stone unturned in his pursuit of glory. We hear him piously boasting of being filled with the Spirit in "confidential, humble tones." He feels God is now in subjection to him. Observation quickly reveals an inflated "ego" and an air of "superiority" toward "lesser" brethren. The farcical aspect of it all is that "proud self" is no more in subjection to the Holy Spirit than the wild colt is in subjection to the voice of the stranger.
Lazy "self" likewise lays hold to the "filling." He sees in it the answer to a dream of escaping the conflict and toil of the Christian life. After some "emotional" experience, or "intellectual" understanding of the doctrine, he sits down, completely satisfied with his "filling." The battle is left to others; he has no time to fight. His eyes are blind to the zealousness of the Spirit-filled Christians of the scripture. Thus, lazy self falls prey to the "peril of passivity." He does not understand that the true filling means the Holy Spirit takes possession of you and flings you into the battle with Satan.
If you would be filled with the Spirit, your life must become a battleground and the only peace must be that sweet inward peace of the heart. Outwardly there will be no peace, the battle will rage with ever increasing fury. Remember Israel hardly knew what warfare was as long as she lived in the wilderness; but from the day she crossed over Jordan, she knew little but warfare. So must it be with us.
The ranks of the deceived seekers are enlarged by "ambitious self." He is intent upon being "filled with the Spirit," that is, on bringing the Spirit more into subjection, for personal gain. To "ambitious self" the filling is something HE can "use" to enlarge personal coffers, church or denomination.
Like Simon the sorcerer, these profiteers would pay a great price for the Holy Spirit that their cause might be advanced. It was with great heartache, that I listened to denominational leaders in a meeting discussing ways to enlarge their ranks. One rose to say (much to the delight of his brethren), "What our denomination needs is more of the Holy Spirit." How absurd! Rather, the Holy Spirit needed a lot more of that denomination.
I can well remember how ignorance of the "filling of the Spirit" caused me much useless seeking for the experience. As a young preacher, I was pastor of a rural church with a congregation of about forty-three members. It greatly excited me to read of Peter being filled with the Spirit at Pentecost. As I read of the tremendous blessings that followed his experience, I dreamed of a similar filling. I pictured myself winning three thousand converts. I visualized the tremendous sanctuary we would have to build. I imagined myself as a sought-after preacher. The headlines in the state denominational paper might read, "Moody Adams wins three thousand converts." This vision of self-success drew me to spend hours weeping, and praying to be "filled with the Spirit." At times I would succeed in working myself into an emotional state, which became the basis of an irrational belief that I had been filled. I would say to myself, "I feel like I'm filled." When the hoped-for success did not follow, I would faithfully return to seek it yet again. These were the wasted years. I thought the Holy Spirit was someone I could possess and use to glorify self. I didn't understand that He was someone who came to possess us and use us to glorify Jesus.
Had I only read farther in the scriptures I would have discovered the successful Peter was not the only man who was filled with the Spirit. Stephen too, was filled. He got three thousand stones, instead of three thousand souls. Both men were in subjection to and used by the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus but in different ways.
PERSONAL POSSESSION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
The third part of the verse, "with the Spirit," teaches us the filling is being possessed by a Person, not "an influence," "a force," or "a power." The filling of the Spirit is another Person taking control of us; of our complete personality.
God does not say "be filled BY the Spirit." He says, "be filled WITH the Spirit." The filling of the Holy Spirit is not the Spirit dispensing a few of His attributes to us. It is not just the Spirit giving us power (as so many teach), or peace, or joy, etc. The filling is a PERSON coming into our lives in all His fullness.
The Holy Spirit, with whom we're admonished to be filled, cannot be simply the influence of God; the power of God; or a force from God. He must be a Person.
Jesus refered to the Holy Spirit as a person: "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that HE may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; WHOM the world cannot receive, because it seeth HIM not, neither knoweth HIM but ye know HIM; for HE dwelleth with you and shall be in you" (John 14:16-17).
Note the personal pronouns, all referring to the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit refers to Himself as a Person: "The Holy Ghost said, Separate ME Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2).
Some erroneously declare that the Holy Spirit is simply the power of God, and the filling to be simply a filling with power. If this were true, many passages of the Bible would be incomprehendable. For example If the word POWER is substituted for Holy Ghost, 1 Corinthians 2:4 would read, in demonstration of power and of power.
The warnings of the Bible demand we recognize the Holy Spirit as a person. Only a person is capable of grief; and Paul writes in Ephesians 4:30 "Grieve not the Holy Spirit." Jesus said that you could blaspheme the Son of God and be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32). Surely the Holy Spirit cannot be just and "influence." If so, blaspheming the "influence" of God would be a greater sin than blaspheming God Himself!
The Bible further assures us the Holy Spirit is a Person by attributing all of the four characteristics of a person to the Holy Spirit. This at the same time shows us how the Holy Spirit will meet every need and compensate for every weakness in our lives.
The Holy Spirit has intelligence. The scripture speaks of the "mind of the Spirit" (Romans 8:27). To be filled with the Spirit means to be engulfed with the God of all wisdom. After Pentecost the disciples spoke with such wisdom it bewildered the hearers, for they were evidently "ignorant and unlearned" men.
When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, He spoke of the wisdom He would bring. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).
Your own mental limitations need be no discouragement to you. To be filled with the Spirit will mean you will be filled with the wisdom of Him who knows all mysteries and possesses all knowledge.
The second attribute of a person is emotion. This too is attributed to the Person of the Holy Spirit. To be possessed and filled by the Holy Spirit means that our emotions give way to His. It explains that His emotions become our emotions. Thus, in the Spirit-filled life you will grieve over sins as the Spirit grieves over them (Ephesians 4:30); you will love God and man as He loves (Romans 15:30).
The third attribute of a person is will or volition: the power of choice. To be filled with the Spirit means to be filled with the God of unerring decisions. Much of the success of the early church lay in the fact that the Holy Spirit made their decisions for them. He decided on Barnabas and Saul becoming missionaries (Acts 13:2).
He decided Philip should leave the mighty Samaritan revival to go win an Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29).
He decided the apostles' field of service (Acts 16:7).
When you are filled and completely controlled by Him, the Holy Spirit will control all of your decisions for you. You will be assured of perfect guidance.
The fourth attribute of a person is action or power. Jesus attributed this characteristic to the Holy Spirit when He promised His weak disciples, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8).
To be filled with the Spirit does not mean being filled with power alone, but it most certainly included this. Despite his own natural weakness the Spirit-filled man can trample on every foe (Micah 3:8).
Because the Holy Spirit is a Person, the man who is filled with Him, lacks nothing. All his own inabilities are forgotten as he triumphantly stands against the foe, filled with all the fullness of God Himself.
In the Spirit-filled life the man is no more than clothes for the Spirit of the Lord to wear. Clothes have no will, emotions, intellect, or power of their own. Nor do they need any of these attributes. The person who wears them affords all of these. So in the Spirit-filled life, we are merely clothes another Person wears.
What a difference this will make. Instead of you struggling and straining to live the Christian life; bearing the burdens; withstanding the world; just submit yourself to the Holy Spirit. You become the "clothes" He is wearing. Then He will live the life; He will bear the burdens; He will withstand the world; and He will do the work. This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit.
Why It Is Necessary
The most important thing in the world for the Christian is the filling of the Spirit. In significance, it towers as the highest mountain over all the other things the religious world counts so important. It is more important than health, financial security, friends, family, religious activity, or even life itself. The filling of the Holy Spirit is not just a pleasant experience for those who are interested but an absolute necessity for all Christians. Those who are sincere in their religion must subordinate everything else to attaining it.
NECESSARY TO OBEDIENCE
It is impossible for you to obey God without being filled with the Spirit. God commanded: "Be filled with the Spirit." He neither requested it, nor offered it. God commanded it. Therefore, if you are not filled you are living in continual disobedience to God. You may say, "Oh, I attend to all the important commands. I neither curse, drink, steal, lie, nor neglect the church." Are there any commands that are not important? Does Jehovah thunder mere trivialities? Of course not. All of God's commands are vital.
However, suppose it were a "small" and comparatively unimportant command. Suppose you pass through the house and tell your son to pick up his shirt from the floor. Now this is certainly a "small commandment." But your son doesn't pick up the shirt, and you ask him again. This time he stomps the floor and screams, "No, I won't pick it up." What was once a "small disobedience" has become a wicked monstrosity. Your son has rebelled against you, your command, and your authority. Likewise, if you are not filled with the Spirit after God so commands, you are rebelling against Him, His command, and His authority.
To see your wickedness in not being filled, observe those about you who habitually disobey the commandments you keep. What is your opinion of a man who professes to be a Christian; yet habitually practices drinking, immorality, thievery, or blasphemy? Naturally, you question his sincerity. You might well question your own sincerity if you deliberately go on without being filled with the Spirit.
NECESSARY TO HOLINESS
It is impossible for a man to be full of holiness without being full of the Spirit of Holiness. No matter how hard you may try to live a holy life, if you are not filled with the Spirit you will only fail. If you are not filled with the Spirit your thoughts, word, and deeds are continually dishonoring God.
The Galatians sought perfection, but they sought it through the "flesh" (Galatians 5:1-3). They tried to be perfect, instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to make them perfect. If you, as the Galatians, are trying to live right; if you are striving for perfection as they did, instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to do the work, God says you are "foolish." If you teach men they should try and live right instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to live right through them, you are "bewitching people." God declares that all talk of holiness apart from the Holy Spirit is the talk of fools.
You have tried to live a life worthy of a Christian. You have dedicated and rededicated your life to God. You have made all manner of resolutions to give up certain sins. But look at how unholy your life remains. Your mind continually wanders to evil and worldly thoughts. Your tongue gossips, criticizes, wanders onto questionable subjects and speaks so little of your sweet Saviour. In the home you are quick-tempered, impatient, and sometimes bitter towards other members of the family. In your relations with others you are jealous, selfish, thoughtless, easily offended and inconsistent. Your life is a million miles from the Sermon on the Mount. Those who are nearest you see these things and wonder at your "profession of religion." It would be no small surprise if your children, loved ones and friends all became infidels as a result of your inconsistency. It would have been better if you had never heard the name of Jesus Christ, than to hear it and profess it and go on dishonoring that name with your unholy life.
If the honor of your Lord's precious Name means anything to you; if you care for the souls of those who daily watch your life; if you have any desire to overcome sin, the executioner of your Saviour; you must be filled with the Spirit.
NECESSARY TO SERVICE
No one has the right to undertake service for the Lord Jesus until he has had a definite filling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples, "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).
They are not to go witness to anyone; not to preach any sermons; not to start any churches yet. Life is short, and time is running out on a world going to hell, but Jesus says, "tarry," sit, and wait.
Why should He tell them to tarry? Their education was complete, after three years of listening to Jesus. Their commission is clear. They were to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. They were sufficiently "challenged" by the words of their Lord, before His ascension. Human enthusiasm was at its highest pitch; they had seen Jesus rise from the dead. Nothing that the world considers important was lacking. But the great essential was still absent. The Holy Ghost had not come upon them. Therefore they were not qualified to undertake their work. They had to wait.
In the early church you would not be allowed to serve tables if you were not filled with the Spirit. In one instance, when the complaint was made that some of the widows were neglected, the church selected seven men, "Of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 6:3), and put them over the matter.
Jesus Himself did not begin His ministry until the day the Spirit descended on Him (Luke 3:22). Then Jesus, "being full of the Holy Ghost" (Luke 4:1), went out to undertake His work of redemption.
Therefore we conclude, to teach a Sunday school class, to witness, to serve as a deacon, or to preach, without being full of the Spirit is to disobey the scripture, tear down the standards of the New Testament church, and to neglect the example set by Christ.
NECESSARY TO OVERCOMING SATAN
We are in a constant spiritual conflict with the spiritual powers of Satan. To win this conflict we must have the greater spiritual power of the Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of this conflict in Ephesians 6:10-12.
Day and night the devil plots to lure you into sin, to deceive you, to discourage you, to overthrow your work. This is why we need to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
It is utterly ridiculous to think of winning the war with Satan apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit. The seven sons of Sceva learned this lesson at an awful price. They had seen Paul cast the devil out of men, and proceeded to attempt his feat without his power (Acts 19:13-16).
This story paints a sad picture of too many in the church today. Our missionaries are fleeing home, "naked and wounded" from many countries. At home the church is winning the battle of mortar and stone while losing the battle of morals and spirituality. Satan is prevailing on many fronts.
We must face the only two possible alternatives. Either we must fall on our faces before God, and be filled with the Holy Spirit, or we must go down in defeat. There are absolutely no other possibilities.
NECESSARY TO WINNING THE LOST
The filling of the Spirit is necessary to rescuing sinners from the impending doom of hell (Acts 1:8).
The only effective force in delivering the lost is the power of the Holy Ghost. Soul saving is God's work. Either He will do it through us or it will not be done. We certainly cannot do it alone.
Sixty million people now without Christ will die within the next twelve months. Perhaps some of them will be your neighbors, loved ones and friends - people you could reach, if you would. Jesus has made them our responsibility. Think of it; the eternal destiny of thousands of souls is in our hands. Without the power that comes from a Spirit-filled life, many we might reach will die and go to hell.
After Jesus rose from the grave He appeared to ten of the disciples. Judas has taken his life. Thomas is absent. Ten disciples remain. Peter and the other nine went out to convince Thomas that Jesus had risen. Surely, Thomas should have been easily convinced of the resurrection. He had seen Jesus heal the sick and raise the dead. But they could not make him believe.
As strange as it seems to our minds, a few days later, Peter, the same man who was involved in the attempt to convince Thomas, converted three thousand men to faith in the resurrected Lord. He accomplished this with the same speaking ability, the same personality, the same education, the same training. What was the difference? Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit between the two efforts (Acts 2:4).
If I could carry you down to hell, I would show you why you need to be filled with the Spirit, far better than words can ever tell you. You'd see scores of men and women who lived within the scope of your powerless influence; people who were unimpressed by your weak witness; people who will live forever in the unbearable tortures of God's wrath. I would show you people who could have been won if you had cared enough to have been filled with the Holy Spirit.
I wonder how many of the damned will rise up out of the lake of fire at the last judgment and curse you for being so absorbed in a worldly, carefree life of pleasure that you were not filled with the Spirit; and therefore, made no saving impression on them.
How It Is Obtained
You can be filled with the Spirit. You too can know the victory over sin, the peace, the joy and the triumphant life of the early Spirit-filled Christians. There are only two obstacles between you and the filling: an unwillingness to yield and an unbelief in the promises of the filling. The moment you completely yield to the Spirit and believe that He will fill you, He does fill you. So consider the two steps to the Spirit-filled life: (1) the act of yielding to the Holy Spirit, (2) the act of claiming the filling by faith.
Before there can be a filling of the Spirit, there must be an emptying of "self". The Holy Spirit cannot be fully gained, until your own life is fully lost. Prior to a Pentecost, when you completely gain His life, there must be a Calvary, when you completely lose your life. This is what yielding means. Jesus said: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).
You may say, "Oh, I know it costs. Why, the disciples who were filled at Pentecost lost their lives beneath the axe of Herod and on the crosses of Rome shortly afterwards." But no, it was not "afterwards" that they lost their lives, it was "before."
They lost them before they were ever filled with the Spirit. They lost them in the upper room. It was there they gave up their families, their ambitions, their pleasures, their lives. They knew full well that the world which had nailed their Master to the cross, would deal no more kindly with them. But they ''tarried" to be filled with the Spirit and thereby forfeited their own mortal lives. This is what it means to "yield". This is what is required to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
If you wish to be filled with the Spirit, set your feet toward Calvary. Seek to be conformed to His death. Nail yourself, with all your pleasures, friends, worldly amusements, ambitions and every love other than Jesus, to the cross.
- Sins of the tongue must be forsaken.
Lying, flattery, criticism, gossip, suggestive remarks, licentious jokes, taking God's name in vain (uselessly), allusions to God (golly), and euphemisms (darn, darned, and darnation, all of which refer to viler terms) must be renounced.
- Sins of wrongful possession hinder the Spirit.
Stealing, pilfering (taking things from an employer), unpaid debts, slackness on your job, unfair wages, an unjust balance in business, are all terrible sins that must be yielded.
- Many are grieving the Spirit through worldliness.
To allow the world, this "dirty, black harlot," to deprive Jesus of all your love is the crime of crimes. Have material riches (beautiful autos, lovely homes, fine clothes, financial security), or fame, or pleasure, or popularity found a place in your heart? Do you harbor worldly ambitions for your children? Do you strive with all your being to fix their entire love on Jesus, or are you concerned that they should be "well liked" by the world?
- Levity rends the heart of the blessed Holy Spirit.
The scripture says "foolish talking," and "jesting," are not to be named among us "as becometh saints;" (Ephesians 5:3-4). If you would have much of the working of the Holy Spirit in your life you must submit yourself to solemnity.
- Some are not filled because of their unwillingness to make restitutions or apologies.
- Unchastity is the stumbling block of others.
Immorality is set aside from every other sin by the Word of God (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Evil thoughts, evil sights (immoral books, immoral movie pictures and television shows), "solitary" sex acts, flirtations, immodest dress, lust, dancing, and petting, all grieve the Spirit.
- Sins of the spirit are often overlooked by us, but never by the Holy Spirit.
Jealousy, anger, malice, covetousness, selfishness and envy must all be yielded.
- Others resist the Holy Spirit by refusing to openly confess their sins (James 5:16).
- Innocent amusements are often the "block" that prevents the filling.
Charles Finney, one time president of Oberlin said, "No intelligent act of a moral agent is innocent or right unless it proceeds from and is an expression of supreme love to God and equal love to man:unless the supreme and ultimate motive be to please and honour God. No amusement can be innocent that involves the squandering of precious time, that might be better employed to the glory of God and the good of man. Life is short. Time is precious. We have but one life to live. Much is to be done. The world is in darkness. A world of sinners are to be enlightened, and if possible, saved. If our hearts are right, our work is pleasant. If rightly performed, it affords the highest enjoyment and is itself the highest amusement. No turning aside for amusement can be innocent that involves any unnecessary loss of time. Again, no amusement can be innocent that involves an unnecessary expenditure of the Lord's money."
- Manifestations of the self-life are hindrances to the filling.
Self-will (demanding one's own way), the quest for self-glorification, self-consciousness, self-pity, self-interest, timidity (fear of risking embarrassment), and self-confidence, are all wicked demonstrations of a man in whom "no good thing dwells". These afford further reasons why self must be given up, and nailed to the cross.
- Many seek the filling in vain because they live a hypocritical life.
They are very pious at church, but are quite the opposite in their homes. Do others think you're better than you really are? If so, you are a hypocrite.
- Doubtful practices hinder some.
To do anything that you have "doubt" about is sinful (Romans 14:21-23).
You are not able to overcome these things in your own strength. However, God expects you to renounce them: to be "willing" to forsake them. You say there are too many things to forsake. No, really there is just one: give up your self and they're all taken care of.
Now if you have fully yielded yourself to the Lord, you have nothing else to do but simply claim the filling by faith. The second step to the filling of the Spirit is believing (Galatians 3:14).
Not one of God's promises can be claimed without faith. "But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).
This is particularly true in regard to the promise of the Holy Spirit. No man can attain the filling without faith.
The one thing that God requires of all men is that they believe what He said just because He said it. This in essence is faith. It is believing what God says regardless of what anybody, or anything else professes. It is believing what God says although you can't determine it to be true through your senses.
Carnal man finds it very difficult to live by faith. The only way he can believe a thing is for his senses to register recognition. He cannot possibly believe he is filled with the Spirit without a sensual manifestation. He must speak in tongues, have a great "feeling," see the performance of a miracle, receive a "sign," or a flash of light, etc. Perhaps nothing reveals the vain state of man better than this. It proves this proud creature has more confidence in his own feelings than he has in the words of Jehovah God.
The world says "seeing" is "believing." (Notice the absolute confidence man has in his senses, though they often fail him). God, on the other hand, says, "Believing is seeing (John 11:40).
Surely, the filling of the Spirit will result in some tangible, visible results in your life. However, you'll not see such results until you believe you are filled on the basis of faith. This is the divine order: faith, then feelings.
Now consider all the sound basis you have in the unfailing words of God for believing God for the filling.
- It is God's will for you to be filled with the Spirit.
Peter stood and explained to the multitude what had happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-18, 39).
It is God's will for "all flesh," "sons," "daughters," "young men," "old men," "servants," "handmaidens," "your children," and those "that are afar off" to be filled with the Spirit. This clearly tells us no one is excluded. It is God's will for you to be filled with the Spirit."
- God commands you to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
This is a clear command for the believer to be filled with the Spirit. It is an absolute certainty that if God has commanded you to be filled, He has likewise made it possible for you to be filled.
- God has promised to fill you with the Spirit (Luke 11:13).
The feasible interpretation of "give the Holy Spirit" is: "give the Holy Spirit in all His fullness." It could hardly be translated in the sense of regeneration because: (1) the object of this promise is said to be the "Friend" of God (Luke11:5); (2) it is designed to help another and not ones own self (Luke 11:6); (3) the parallel indicates that the one who seeks is already a "child" of God (Luke 11:13).
To doubt that God will fill you with the Spirit, once you sincerely ask, is to accuse God of being less than yourself. No doubt, you would give your hungry children food (Luke 11:11-12). Do you think for a moment that God will not give the good gift of the Spirit's filling to those who are hungering for it? If God ever failed to fill one who sincerely asked, He would prove to us that He was less than an earthly parent. All of creation shudders at that thought. What God has promised He will perform.
- God has filled all the others who sought it aright (Acts 2:4).
At Pentecost all those who had yielded and believed the promise of God were filled. Where is one instance of anyone who sought it aright and was not filled? If He filled ALL of them He will surely fill you.
- God gives you the right to claim the filling of the Spirit.
Not just to ask, but to claim it, to demand it, to lay hold of it, to seize it as your own (1 John 5:14-15).
Therefore, knowing that it is God's will for us to be filled with the Spirit, we know that as we pray for the filling He hears us. And knowing that he hears us, we already have the petition we desired of Him. We know we are filled! How do we know it? Simply because God said it. Is there any better way to know something than for God to say it?
Not only do you know you are filled, after you ask, but you can then boldly say you are (Hebrews 13:5-6).
This is the writer's argument. If God says something, we have the right to boldly say it (Luke 11:13). Therefore if I have sincerely asked Him, I have the right to boldly say, "I am filled with the Spirit." God's word enables me to cry against Satan's ten thousand voices of doubt, "I am filled with the Spirit."
There may be no immediate rush of emotion, there may be no miracles following and Satan may attack me as never before; but l know I am filled for God has said so.
"Believing" is what Abraham did when he trusted in "that which was spoken," in spite of all that his senses saw, felt and heard to the contrary (Romans 4:18-21).
Join Abraham in believing God's promise, though all circumstances say God is a liar. This is faith. It is your choice to believe what God says in His word, instead of believing what Satan says through your senses.
A pastor friend of mine became very hungry for the filling of the Spirit. He joined in many prayer groups and sought it for some time. One night he went into a room alone and began praying. During this night of seeking he gave up sin after sin, yielding himself to the Lord. His hunger became so intense he resolved never to preach again until he was filled with the Spirit. Near midnight he opened his Bible to Luke 11:13 and asked the Lord for the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. Gripped by the passion of his soul and the certainty of the promise, he cried out to heaven, "Oh God, if you don't fill me with the Spirit you are a liar." This jolted him into a position of faith and he immediately began to weep and beg God's forgiveness. "Oh no, God, you couldn't lie, I know you have done it." He arose from his knees, thanking and praising God for filling him. For a while the circumstances were increasingly difficult. Great conflicts came; few outward blessings were evident on his ministry. However, he refused to doubt God and persisted in praising Him for the filling. Today his church is the nearest to the fellowship of the book of Acts I have seen. There is a closeness among the majority of the members exceeding that of many a family. When they pray, God answers. Many miracles are being performed. Though their conflict is greater than ever before, the joy of the Holy Spirit prevails in the lives of many who have joined their pastor in claiming the filling of the Spirit. This church is a living witness in our day that God still lives; His promises are still true. The Holy Spirit is still able to do all that He did in the books of Acts, and He will do it, when we completely yield to Him and claim His fullness.
How It Is Distinguished
How do you know when you are filled with the Spirit? What is the test of a Spirit-filled life? The most certain way to distinguish a tree is by its fruit. The only way to distinguish the Spirit-filled life is by its fruit.
Jesus said to judge men by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-18). The mark of a man who is abiding in Christ is ''much fruit" (John 15:5).
The fruit by which Spirituality is to be tested is clearly pictured by these seven characteristics: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23).
Fix this principle in your mind. God gave but one way of testing spirituality. That is by the "fruit" found in the life of an individual. There is no other way for you to test either your own, or another's spirituality, but by this "fruit". The man who is born again will possess this fruit; and the man whose life is filled with the Spirit will be filled with this fruit.
It is interesting to look at the number of false tests of spirituality men have devised. In general they are contrived by men who do not pass the genuine test. To maintain the aura of spirituality they invent other methods to prove their claims. Consider several of these:
- Apparent success in spiritual labor is not a test of spirituality.
The ministry in its ambition for success is particularly susceptible to this false premise. Others feel certain they would be guaranteed of winning all their loved ones and friends to Christ, if they became really spiritual. Though it would have a marked effect on your efforts, and many of them would perhaps be won, you must remember that all of Jesus' family did not believe.
Consider how absurd it actually is to test spirituality in such a manner. Remember, the insincere Jonah turned the great city of Nineveh to God in its entirety, while the devoted, heart broken Jeremiah, failed utterly in his efforts to save his people from captivity, and faithful Noah did not win a soul outside his own family in one hundred and twenty years.
- "Outward" peace is not a proof of spirituality.
Many feel that they are in an advanced spiritual state when there is little conflict surrounding their lives and everything is "going well." This misconception has greatly discouraged many of the sincere children of God. It was the same false principle Satan tried to force Job to accept; namely, that he would not have been suffering if he had been right with God. To be filled with the Spirit will mean conflict with Satan in an ever-increasing degree. Preacher, instead of meaning all would be peace in your fellowship; the filling of the Spirit might mean you would be expelled from your church. You might be cast out of your denomination, as were Luther, Whitefield, Wesley, and others. Satan vehemently attacks the Spirit-filled individual. He makes him the special object of his wrath. To be filled with the Spirit might well mean the loss of your friends; being despised by men, as your Master was. The first thing that happened to Jesus after He was filled with the Spirit was an attack by Satan. The disciples never tasted of suffering until after they were filled with the Spirit. Follow the history of those who were filled at Pentecost and you will see the continual conflict and persecution that is present in the spiritual life.
- Feeling is no test of the filling.
Many will declare they have been filled with the Spirit, because "they felt it come upon them." Jeremiah tells us that the human heart (the center of all feelings) is "deceitful above all things." This means your feelings are more deceitful than the devil himself. Any man who tests his spirituality by the way he feels has neglected a clear warning in the word of God. He has made his feelings his God, and attends to their dictates rather than to Jehovah's. What an absence of spiritual wisdom there is behind such statements as: "You could just feel the Spirit", and "We could just feel the nearness of the Lord" (when the scripture says that He is always near, whether we feel Him or not, if we are saved). Read the account of Pentecost, not one mention of how the disciples felt was made, but an entire book is written about what they did. The book is named The Acts of the Apostles, and not The Feelings of the Apostles. Waiting to "feel the Spirit" is an outright refusal to accept the filling by faith.
- The gifts of the Spirit (tongues included) are not evidences of the Spirit-filled life.
Many have made supernatural manifestations, particularly "tongues", a test of whether or not someone was filled with the Holy Spirit. I do not feel that the burden is on me to prove this point, since there are no passages that qualify miracles as a sign of the Spirit's filling. Nonetheless, I will present the following seven reasons which show the contrary to be true. Miracles could not be the mark of spirituality.
(a) By definition, gifts could not be a test. Gifts are something that has been produced by another and given to you. Fruit, on the other hand, is something you have produced yourself. You do not judge a painter by the painting that another has given to him, but rather by those he has produced himself.
(b) If Jesus' words teach that the miraculous gift of tongues is a necessary mark of spirituality for each Christian, then snake handling and poison drinking are also necessary for each Christian. "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;" (Mark 16:17-18).
This is the only mention of the gift of tongues in the four gospels. To deduce from this verse that tongues are a necessary mark of the Spirit-filled life, without at the same time declaring it necessary to handle snakes and drink poison, is to be inconsistent.
(c) The miraculous spiritual gifts of Pentecost are no more necessary to being filled with the Spirit than the miraculous physical phenomenon that occurred at this time.
Some say, "to be filled with the Spirit, you have to receive it just as those at Pentecost did." If this be true, you must have cloven tongues of fire on your head, and the sound of a rushing mighty wind, or you're not filled, for that is the way it happened at Pentecost. It is absurd by your own free choice to pick out a certain portion of Acts 2, as necessary and reject other parts as unnecessary.
He "saw," not he "heard," the scripture says. Our unchanging God three times filled men with the Spirit in the book of Acts and gave no manifestations of gifts. He still can and does do it.
(d) If tongues are a necessary evidence of the filling, then the Bible contradicts itself. "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; (one at a time)" (1 Corinthians 14:27).
If only three people in an assembly can speak in tongues without sinning against God by a plain transgression of this commandment, how then are all the members of a congregation to be obedient to another command of God in Ephesians 5:18-19, which says all Christians are to be filled with the Spirit?
(e) The scripture plainly indicates you cannot judge spirituality by any particular gift. The schism in the church today concerning gifts is nothing new. Paul wrote three chapters to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 12-14) because of a division over spiritual gifts. He declares: "Are all workers of miracles; Have all the gift of healing, do all speak with tongues, do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:29-30).
God gives various gifts to different people so that we might all be dependant upon each other. This is done to "prevent" schism (1 Corinthians 12:25). But the spiritual ignorance of some is so great; they withdraw from everyone who does not have "their gift", declaring them "unsaved," "unspiritual," or "lacking the baptism of the Holy Spirit." Hereby, the prevention of schism becomes the cause of schism in the body of Christ. To say someone is not of the body, because they do not have your particular gift, is as ridiculous as it would be if your ear said to your eye, "You're not of this body, because you can't hear" (1 Corinthians 12:16).
(f) Miraculous gifts can all be imitated by the devil. Whereas one can heal in the name of Jesus, the African witch doctor can heal in the name of the devil. Whereas some are acclaimed spiritual because they've been heard to speak in "other languages" of which they had no previous knowledge, I am familiar with at least two incidents in which those who spoke in miracle tongues, afterwards had their speech interpreted and learned they were blaspheming God.
Many people who are manifesting spiritual gifts and doing the work in "Jesus' name" are unconverted children of the devil, masquerading as children of light. Jesus warned: "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:22-23).
Therefore we must conclude with the Apostle Paul that spiritual fruit (namely love) is the only basis of testing the spirituality of an individual and never spiritual gifts. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels (speak every language in the world and in heaven), and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge: and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-2).
Now I would point you to the seven-fold fruit, which is the true test of a spirit-filled life. (Galatians 5:2-23).
- Love, which is, "Shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost" (Romans 5:5) is the first and foremost evidence of the Spirit's fullness.
We have made much to do about the miracles that took place at Pentecost and have so quickly read over the "sign" of love, which became so evident on that day. These Christians loved the needy so much they sold their homes and shared with them! Of course Paul did have the gifts of the Spirit working in his life. But he also had love: enough love to leave his people, be persecuted, hated and even lose his life to get the gospel to the poor lost heathen. Stephen, filled with the Spirit, did have a great ministry; miracles were performed. But more unique than this was the love he evidenced when praying for vile, wicked hypocrites as they stoned him to death. Have we forgotten love? The Spirit-filled Christian will find God's love being poured through him to all men.
- Joy "in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17) is the second evidence of being filled with the Spirit.
This was what made the Apostle Paul sing and praise God in the middle of the night, though he was beaten and held in stocks at Philippi. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will be filled with a deep inner joy that nothing can take away.
- Peace will calm the life of those who are filled with the Spirit.
In the fourteenth chapter of John, in which Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples, He said: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you." (John 14:27).
Peace amidst all the confusions, perplexities, sorrow
and tragedies of life, is an evidence of the filling of the Spirit
- Longsuffering lives, are Spirit-filled lives.
Oswalt Sanders relates "Said a tyrant to a Christian whom he had in his grasp financially: What can your Christ do for you now? He can help me to forgive you, replied the Christian." When you are filled with the Spirit, you will find yourself being longsuffering in all your dealings with others.
- Gentleness, kindliness toward others, is a mark of a Spiritual life.
When the Holy Spirit possesses you, He will reproduce the "kindly, gentle Saviour" in your life.
- Goodness, the grace men often forget, is never forgotten by the Holy Spirit.
To be filled with Him is synonymous with being filled with goodness.
- Faithfulness was the mark of the early Spirit-filled disciples, as it is of all others.
They were "faithful unto death". It is impossible to be filled with the Spirit and not be led of the Spirit up the pathway of faithfulness.
- Meekness, or the act of giving oneself to the Master's control, is another evidence of being filled.
The Spirit that was within Jesus will make you like the one who was "meek and lowly of heart".
- Temperance is the final test.
The Spirit will bring you under control at all points as He possesses and fills you. The desires of the flesh, which are too great for you to control, are no problem at all to the Holy Spirit. Thus Paul says: "Walk in the Spirit and you'll not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."
These nine characteristics are emblematic of one fruit. That fruit is Christ. You see the basic reason the Holy Spirit came into the world was to make us like Jesus.
These are the nine things that you may expect to find in your life after you are filled with the Spirit.