Pentecostals are very good about asking, “Are you filled with the Spirit?” However, that immediately makes some people defensive. “Of course, I am filled with the Spirit. I spoke in tongues 30 years ago! Why would you ask me that question?” There are others who will answer, “Of course, I am filled with the Spirit. I hope you’re not talking about tongues. Because when I gave my life to Jesus, I was filled with the Spirit.”
If you read the Book of Acts carefully, you discover that time and again in the life of Jesus’ disciples, at critical junctures in their lives the text says, “They were filled with the Spirit.” That filling of the Spirit is both a Pentecost and a post-Pentecost filling. Subsequent to Acts 2, the Spirit continued to fill the disciples at moments when they faced challenges they had never faced before, when a new level of power was called for in their personality that they had never needed before. With each new challenge comes a new demand for a fresh filling of the Spirit.
This must be our experience of the Spirit today. It is not simply that the Spirit came upon us when we were baptized in the Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in other tongues. The Spirit, in our present challenges, is filling us to every level of capacity. May we be filled at this moment in life with all of God that we can take. May we experience to the deepest level and core of our being the fullness of God that the Spirit makes present!
The church cannot function without the Holy Spirit. And our personal life cannot function without the Holy Spirit. We might know a lot about theology. We might study our Bible on a regular basis. But unless we have the operating presence of the Spirit in our life, we are not doing anything that really counts in the kingdom of God.
Here are four things the Book of Acts notes about the Spirit—what the Spirit is doing when He comes upon us.
- First, the Holy Spirit creates unity among us without producing uniformity. When the Spirit of God enters us, we do not become clones. In fact, the Scriptures say that the Spirit places great variety in the body of Christ—varieties of ministry, personality, ministerial office, all flowing out of the one Spirit. The Spirit ministers to us the life of Jesus, which is the source of our unity, but He also brings us into conformity with Christlikeness without making us “cookies” cut from the same mold. The Spirit creates unity without uniformity.
- Second, the Spirit taps the potential in our life that no one or nothing else can reach. No single person’s life is ever the same after having encountered the Holy Spirit. No person in the New Testament would have ever expressed the potential in his or her life unless the Holy Spirit had been upon them. No matter what our talents and personality are, no matter how much energy we bring to any particular assignment or task, only the Holy Spirit can touch the depths of potential in our life and draw them forth for the kingdom of God.
- Third, the Spirit is always leading us in two dimensions simultaneously. He’s always leading us deeper into God and He’s always leading us out into the world. The Spirit’s desire is to make us more spiritual, more godly, more like Jesus. He wants to lead us deeper into God. We need to be careful how we define the deeper things of God. The deeper things of God move us to love as God loves and to experience His purity and joy. The deeper things of God are not about spooky spirituality or being smarter or holier than the next person. The deeper things of God are meant to impress our life more dramatically with the personality of God through Christ Jesus. At the same time, the Spirit leads us out into the world, because God loves the world. The Father gave His Son to save the world. Jesus told us to go into the world, but He said we can’t go into the world unless the Spirit comes upon us. He told the disciples to wait until the Spirit did that. The Spirit is always pulling us deeper into God and more thoroughly into ministry to a lost world. We see this in the Old Testament with Isaiah. In Isaiah 6:1, the prophet was worshipping the Lord and said, “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” Isaiah was lost in worship to God and the next thing he knew, God said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Caught up in adoration of God, Isaiah heard God say, “I’ve got a work for you to do.” When you worship God, He will point you to His work and where it is, in your family, in the church, and in the world.
- Fourth, the Holy Spirit is indeed a Person and as such, you can resist Him, ignore Him or welcome Him. He waits to be received; He waits to be invited. Jesus said to ask the Father and He will give you the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will not storm down the door of our life. He seeks an invitation. We ask, seek and knock and welcome the Spirit.