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9 June is Pentecost Sunday.
For a Christian not to be Spirit-filled is a downright sin. If you are not filled with the Spirit then you are living in sin. God commands us in Ephesians 5:18: “Be filled with the Spirit” and if you do not obey then you sin by neglect (James 4:17).
By indifference to the Word of God, by apathy to His commands, by spiritual laziness and carelessness, by a sluggish and lukewarm response to God’s great command to be filled with the Spirit, the church has been filled by the world, by the flesh and by the devil with sinful, half-hearted, lukewarm, semi-saved, half-saved, pseudo-saved and even unsaved poor imitations of the real thing.
We, Christians, are in a full-scale war, but we do not seem to be doing much fighting! The church is being attacked by the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:13). Deception, sin and worldliness are crippling and undermining church outreach and growth. Worse still, we do not seem to be aware of it. All of us have friends and family who are under the attack of the evil one. We have family members chained by the devil, friends trapped in addictions and sinful habits and the church has sheep who are being carried away captive by the false prophets and filthy demons of hell (Isaiah 42:22). Secular humanists are deceiving, distracting and deluding Christians.
Satanists and occultists are undermining and assaulting the leaders and the work of the church by incarnations, hexes and subtle spiritual warfare. By tempting, blinding, deceiving and deluding Christians to engage in false priorities, embrace false doctrines, adopt false agendas, employ human solutions, become ensnared in sinful habits and addictions, by keeping Christians from the Bible and hindering us from prayer, the devil has tragically rendered whole congregations ineffective. Many have accepted a false god, a false gospel and a false mission.
The devil is waging an all-out war against the forces of Jesus Christ and many seem to be confined to barracks, tamely singing choruses and enjoying fun and fellowship.
Napoleon once said as he looked over the vast expanse of China: “There lies a sleeping giant – let him sleep; for if he wakes he will shake the world!” Today the devil could be saying the very same of the church: “There lies a sleeping giant… if he wakes, he will SHAKE THE WORLD!”
We can liberate the world for Christ (1 John 5:4). We can reach every tribe, tongue and people for Christ in this generation (Mark 9:23). Christianity without Christ’s mighty Holy Spirit is dry, dull, powerless, inept and ineffective. Christianity in the power of the Holy Spirit is dynamic, fresh, spiritual, powerful, invincible, earth shaking, history making!
The greatest power in the universe is the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
There is no limit to what God can do in and with and through you (Mark 10:27), if He is not quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19), No limit!
It was said of the Christians of the first century that they “turned the world upside down” and that is exactly what true Christianity, in the power of the Holy Spirit, always accomplishes! Read through the Book of Acts and notice the incredible impact that the Christian lifestyle and message had on the Roman Empire. Whenever the Gospel was proclaimed in the power of the Spirit there was either a Revival or a riot! Indifference was impossible to such a radical message and such an invincible power (Roman 15:18-19).
Are you dissatisfied with your present spiritual experience? Are you frustrated by the inroads that the world and the flesh have made into the church? Do you long to see Christians making a greater impact on society? Is it a burden of your heart that the evangelisation and discipleship of the whole world in this generation becomes a reality?
If you determine to stop quenching and resisting the Holy Spirit and humble yourself and pray and seek His face and turn from your wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14); if you seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness with a thirsty heart (John 7:37-38), then as you ask, seek and knock, God promises to fill you (Luke 11:9-13) with supernatural power from above and vibrant spiritual vitality and life. God promises. He assures us (Matthew 5:6). He stakes the honour of His Name (John 14:16) on these promises, stating that as we fulfil the simple conditions, He will work miracles and endue us with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
What, then, do we need in order to turn this world upside down, right side up, back to God? What is needed for us to reclaim the nations for Christ?
Well, firstly we need dedicated Christian disciples whole-heartedly committed to Christ (Acts 20:24) and freed from the chains of sin, selfishness and worldliness (Hebrews 12:1). We need Christians filled with the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we need these Christians to be able to be led by the Spirit into God’s will (Romans 8:14) to do and to say the right things, at the right time, to the right people, in the right place. God gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him. For God’s master strategy of freeing this world from satan and turning it to Christ we need Christians Master controlled so as to know the most appropriate word or effective action to do or to say to the most prepared person, at the most crucial time, for the greatest effect and the best results (Romans 12:1-2). We need Christians led by the Spirit!
Thirdly, we need Christians who will pray in the power of the Spirit (Jude 20). God acts in answer to prayer and if we do not pray then we cannot expect God to act. Prayer releases the power of God. The only foundation for spiritual work is prayer. Prayer is our priority. A prayerful life is always a powerful life. A prayerless life is always a powerless life. Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer, except that which is beyond the will of God. When we pray in the Spirit (John 15:7) then we are releasing the greatest power in the universe. The Church needs Christians who will pray in the Spirit.
Fourthly, we need Christians endued with supernatural power to win the spiritual war at present raging (Acts 1:8). There are far too many of our friends, families and churches that are being undermined, chained and crippled by the forces of evil (2 Corinthians 4:4). The time has come to rise up and go out in the power of God’s Spirit and annihilate wickedness and worldliness. We must set the prisoners free (Isaiah 61:1). We must win the victory (Romans 8:37). We must win our world for Jesus (1 John 5:4) and in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus we shall, we must, we will prevail.
In order to set free the prisoners of sin and satan the Lord has given believers power to bind evil (Matthew 12:19). We can restrict, limit and oppose the powers of rebellion, doubt, unbelief, sin, perversion, slavery and hatred (Matthew 18:18). We have power to overcome the gates of hell, to storm the very strongholds of evil (Matthew 16:18-19) and to set the prisoners free (Luke 11:22). To announce liberty to the captive (Luke 4:18). As the Lord Himself declared: “I have given you authority so that you can walk on snakes and scorpions and overcome all the power of the enemy and nothing will hurt you.” Luke 10:19
Even the demons must obey us when we give them a command in Jesus Name (Luke 10:17; Acts 16:18; Mark 16:17). This is because, as we place ourselves in submission to the power of God, we are able to resist the lesser power of the enemy (James 4:7). “Greater is Him who is in us, than him who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
The Church of Jesus Christ needs dedicated Christ centred, Bible based, prayerful Christians endued with God’s supernatural power in order to win this spiritual world war and turn people back to God.
As John Wesley said: “Give me one hundred men who love God with all their hearts and who fear no one but God and who hate nothing but sin and I will change the world.”
Christians who will love God with all their hearts (Mark 12:30).
Christians who fear no one but God (2 Timothy 1:7).
Christians who hate sin (Proverbs 8:13).
Christians who will make an impact on this world (Acts 19:6).
This is what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), for to be filled with God’s Spirit is to be filled with the very nature of God (Ephesians 3:19) which is to be filled with Christ (Colossians 2:9, 10), which is to be filled with love, wisdom and knowledge (Ephesians 3:17-19). They are synonymous and inseparable. To be filled with God’s power (Acts 1:8) is to be filled with His love, knowledge and wisdom (Romans 5:5) and the power of that love and wisdom of Christ’s Holy Spirit shows itself in dynamic action, that moves the world, back to God.
The mark of a Christian is love (John 13:15).
The mark of love is action (1 John 3:18).
He is able to do far more abundantly above all we could ask, or think, or dream of, by the power of His love working in us (Ephesians 3:20).
We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit!
How do we receive the fullness of power in our lives?
The Spirit of God is received through the Word of God. As we expose ourselves to the Word of God, as we submit to its authority, we open ourselves to the powerful working of God’s Spirit who works through the Word of God (Galatians 3:2).
As we submit ourselves to the Word of God (James 1:21), we open ourselves to the work of God’s Spirit (John 16:13).
The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit fills clean vessels in response to surrender and faith.
It is the Word of God that cleanses us (John 15:3).
The Word of God imparts and builds up faith within us (Romans 10:17).
The Word of God accomplishes the purposes of God (Isaiah 55:11).
That is why 1 Thessalonians 2:13 teaches us that God is at work in them who believe and receive God’s Word in faith.
As we surrender to the Son of God we will receive faith from the Word of God (Galatians 3:14).
We will find that the more we get into the Word of God, the more the God of the Word gets into us.
To summarise: As we accept, believe and submit to the Word of God, we simultaneously receive cleansing from the Word and the infilling of Faith which leads to the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit. The more we are filled with and under the influence and control of the Bible, the more we are filled with the Spirit, coming more and more under His influence and control (Galatians 5:25).
Now, this infilling is both a process and a crisis. You are responsible for the process of being continually filled with God’s Spirit, by continually receiving and applying God’s Word. “But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and in His Law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:2-3
God will respond at times with a crisis, where you have a spiritual encounter and experience with God’s Holy Spirit in order to prepare you either for some work or some hardships, some task or some responsibility by doing a work within you, renewing your minds, effecting inner healing, preparing you for ministry, endowing you with a gift, empowering you for witness, anointing you in worship or in prayer, or calling you for some task.
This could be called the overflowing of God’s Spirit. When you are faithful to the process of being filled with God’s Spirit you will find time and again occasions when the Spirit overflows from within you (John 7:38).
The fruit (or evidences) that this fullness of the Spirit produces is to be seen in any life surrendered to God and thirsty for His Word. It is real love, overflowing joy, deep peace of mind and heart, exceptional patience, real kindness, true goodness, invincible faithfullness, genuine humility and great self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Jesus said that we will know a person by his fruit (Matthew 12:33). The Spirit shows His presence through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Love is seen through actions. These actions are the type that make an impact that change our world and accomplish God’s will.
A Christian filled with God’s Word is filled with faith and love and power. Such a Christian is able to be directed and guided by God into His perfect will to accomplish His mighty purposes. Such a believer who is filled with God’s Word finds that as he prays sincerely from his heart (John 16:24), according to the Scriptures cherished in his mind, he has a vital contact with and union in Christ. “If you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7
As the will of God - as revealed in the Scriptures and the desires of the Christian - as transformed by the Scriptures (Romans 12:2) meet and harmonise together they make combined contact with God’s prayer answering power and God’s purposes are accomplished. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.” Zechariah 4:6
This is spiritual dynamite! Actually, this is spiritual nitro-glycerine! This is praying in the Spirit! It releases that mighty power of God that is needed to transform our lives and change our world.
Fire, Wind and Water
Three of the greatest natural forces in the world are fire, wind and water. These three forces reveal something of the power of the Creator. On the Day of Pentecost, the fire of God, the wind of the Holy Spirit and the living waters of Jesus Christ moved in great power and the Church was born.
Search Your Heart
Do you know what it is to have the fire of God's Word burn within you? Do you what it is to have the wind of the Holy Spirit lead and guide you? Do the living waters of Christ flow from your heart?
Power for living, power for guidance, power for prayer, power for missions. Your world needs this power. Your church needs this power. You need this power. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16
“Be filled with the Spirit…” Ephesians 5:18
“Pray without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“Go ye therefore…” Matthew 28:19
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:17-21
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa