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Holy Spirit, Part 2: The Filling

Scripture: Acts 2:1-13
Date: 06/22/2002 
The second of a three part series on the Holy Spirit. This sermon teaches on the filling of the Spirit. Some of us are satisfied with a small filling of the Spirit when God wants us to be completely filled. Churches without the Spirit are hollow shells.
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Today I especially want to talk about the filling of the Spirit, but before we get to that maybe I should lay a little groundwork and explain that the Holy Spirit is not something that goes off or on like a light. The Holy Spirit is a person. The Holy Spirit is not some nebulous, ethereal force. The Holy Spirit is not an it. He is a he, a person. Now I’m not trying to attach gender to the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe we can do that in the sense that we think of he or she. The Holy Spirit is a person and one of the persons, the third person in the godhead, has all of the characteristics of a person. In the same way we have varying intensities of relationship with people you can have varying degrees of relationship or fullness of the Spirit. Let me illustrate that. Did Jesus have the Holy Spirit before he began his ministry? Of course he did.

Did the Holy Spirit come down in a special sense at his baptism? Did the apostles have the Holy Spirit before Pentecost? Otherwise, I mean, if they did not have the Holy Spirit before the day of Pentecost then when Jesus sent them out on several occasions preaching he sent them out spiritless. That’s hard to imagine, but they received a special fullness of the Spirit often referred to as the baptism of the Spirit at the time of Pentecost. Now this was something that was prophesied by John the Baptist in Matthew chapter 3, verse 11. John when he began his ministry he said, “I indeed baptize you with water… but there is One coming after me who is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Speaking of Jesus the Bible says in John 3, verse 34 “For God gives not the Spirit by measure unto him.” Jesus had the Holy Spirit without measure. He did not have a gas gauge that said, “Okay you’re full, that’s enough.” It was a limitless supply of the Holy Spirit that Jesus possessed.

Now when we talk about the fullness of the Spirit or the baptism of the Spirit I want to make sure you don’t misunderstand. I remember when I became a Christian I would periodically meet some of my Charismatic friends who would ask me, “Have you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit?” Now when I read that in the Bible I understood the baptism of the Spirit to mean the fullness of the Spirit and I never felt really worthy to say, nor do I now feel worthy to say, “I’m baptized in the Holy Spirit.” I mean, that depicts a Pentecostal experience. I’m not talking about Charismatic. I’m talking about Acts chapter 2 Pentecostal experience, filled with the Spirit, healing the, I was going to say healing the dead, but that I guess that is a healing, isn’t it? Raising the dead and healing the sick and you know, that’s what I envisioned. And I’d say, “Well, you know, I have the Spirit. I’m not sure I have the baptism of the Spirit.” And they’d say, “Well, if you speak in tongues you have the baptism of the Spirit.” But that’s not what the Bible teaches. Speaking in tongues is one of the many gifts of the Spirit. Baptism of the Spirit means being filled with the Spirit. Now I want to be filled with the Spirit. I want you to want to be filled with the Spirit.

I think that the world still has yet to see in this generation, century, of course this century is not very old, is it? But I mean in the last hundred years, what it means and what a church can do that is filled with the Spirit the way the apostles were. And I believe the Bible teaches it will happen again. Now let me explain. I think this is a timely message. I think that according to the prophetic clock we are due. According to the Bible Jesus is the sower of the seed. In the Hebrew economy, their agricultural economy when they sowed their seed they did not have artificial irrigation. They depended upon regular climate and seasons to water the rain, and seasonally they would sow the seed and in the fall they would get what they called the former rain. In the springtime they would get the latter rain just before the harvest. The former fain would sprout the seed. It would grow through the winter months and then in the springtime they would receive the latter rain. It would fatten and ripen the crop and it would be harvested shortly after that. Called the former and the latter rain. The former rain was Acts chapter 2 when God launched the New Testament church. He poured out his Spirit. The seeds that Jesus had been sowing through his life sprouted and they began to grow.

We have yet to see the latter rain. The latter rain is the rain, the outpouring of the Spirit that prepares the church for the great harvest when Jesus comes. Have you seen the pictures in Revelation? You know Revelation is a very visual book. Christ is pictured not only with a sword in his mouth but a sickle in his hand. He is coming to harvest the world so we need this second outpouring of the Spirit to prepare the world for the return of Jesus. In the same way that the former rain fell on those who already knew about Christ that did have a relationship, the latter rain is going to fall on God’s people and we need that desperately now. Now the Holy Spirit not only comes in different degrees the baptism of the Spirit can come more than one time. For instance, in Acts chapter 2 you see the Holy Spirit being poured out then again in Acts chapter 4, Acts chapter 5 the Holy Spirit is poured out. The place was shaken and they spoke the word of God with power. In the parable that Jesus tells at the end of Matthew 24 you’ve got Matthew 25 and he tells some parables that I think they depict the church’s condition prior to the Second Coming. One of those parables is dealing with the ten virgins. Fifty percent of those ten virgins are not prepared for the great wedding feast.

What was it that distinguished the difference between those who are ready and those who are not ready? The amount of oil they had. They all had oil. What does the oil represent? They all had oil. They all had some of the Spirit, but some had more than others. Some did not have enough. Now is this simple enough? Is it clear to you that it’s not enough to have the Holy Spirit in your life? You must have enough Holy Spirit in your life. I think some of us are satisfied to have a very thin veneer of a relationship with the Lord when the Lord is longing for us to be filled with the Spirit. When I was growing up it’s amazing that I survived because I had a very Pagan diet. My breakfast, if at all, was coffee, tea and Twinkies before school. My brother and I, my mother, we grew up largely with my mother in New York City and she often worked at nights and we would get ourselves off to school and I can’t count how many times my breakfast was a Hostess Twinkie. Now I vaguely remember one time… What is it that makes a Twinkie a Twinkie? You know. You’ve had them.

I’ll tell you right now I haven’t had a Twinkie in probably fifteen years, not a single one. I made the mistake of reading the ingredients and if you do that it’ll ruin it for you so if you’re enjoying your Twinkies don’t read the ingredients. But I vaguely remember one time getting ready for school taking my Twinkie, going down to the subway or the bus stop whatever it happened to be and I got a defective Twinkie. You know what was wrong with it? Hollow. A hollow Twinkie. What is a Twinkie without the filling? You know what it is? It’s a church with a form of religion and no power. I heard a pastor one time describe it this way. Church is like a bunch of people riding along in a bus, the bus runs out of gas but they don’t want to stop because they’ve got their programs. They’re on their way and so instead of stopping a number of them get out and push. And what they really need is to be filled. If you fill the bus with gas you don’t have to push it. It’ll go on its own, but how many churches do we have where you’ve got all these people pushing a bus around?

Yes, it is moving but it’s not moving under the power it’s supposed to be using. It’s moving under human power where it’s supposed to be driven by that fuel of God’s Spirit. And how many church programs go on and what you’ve got is people just pushing the bus? It seems like we’re making progress. You get fifty people, and they can push a bus down the road. So often you get together at church conventions and conferences and ministerial associations. I just came back. Our pastors were at the ministerial conference meeting and there’s some good material there and they’ll talk about programs and methods and raising money and the different techniques and resources and it’s good stuff, but I remember one time hearing a minister say, “The church really doesn’t need more machines and methods and money as much as we need better men and women. Our most desperate need is the filling of the Spirit.” When you have a church that is filled with the Spirit it will cover a multitude of other defects. If we could have the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we need that more than we need our building. If we could have the baptism of the Holy Spirit we would get a lot farther spreading the message than we do using media. The disciples did much more than we’re doing with television without media.

What did they have that we’re lacking? They had the baptism, the fullness of the Spirit. They were able to turn the Roman Empire upside down. Uneducated fishermen they did not have a proliferation of degrees, but you know what they did have? They had the fullness of the Spirit. What separated the wise from the foolish virgins? Some had full vessels, some were only partially full. Now you must have a degree of the Holy Spirit to receive the fullness of the Spirit. You can’t come off the street traditionally without having at least the preliminary relationship with Jesus and expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? Was it pagans off the street? Was it the gentiles? Was it the Jews who had fought against Christ or was it those who had already been walking with him for a while that received the filling of the Spirit? If I tell you to water a plant because the plant is thirsty and you go over to water the plant and it is absolutely bone dry brown dead you would think the water is not going to do that plant any good. It must have a little water in its fiber to begin with for the water to do any good. You can water a dead plant all day long it’s not going to do any good. You can flood a dead plant. It won’t help.

If you let a plant go too long no matter how long you water it, it won’t save it. Some of you have patches of lawn like that. You know what I’m talking about? If you wait too long before you thirst for the Holy Spirit it could be too late. And so while you’re alive spiritually is when you’re going to crave the Holy Spirit. A man named John V. Taylor brought out an interesting point. He said, “I’ve never heard recently of a committee or business being adjourned because those present were waiting for the arrival of the Holy Spirit.” I’ve never seen a project abandoned for lack of the Holy Spirit. We will abandon a project for lack of funds, but when have you ever seen a church program dismissed because you say, “You know we don’t have sufficient Spirit for this program.” You’ve probably all been to the restrooms. You’ve seen those posters “Restroom Renovation” or “Bathroom Renovation Fund” and we are not going to begin the renovation until it gets to what did I say 75% or 80%. It’s $20,000. We’re almost there. You know we’re going to we’re going to wait until we have sufficient funds. Who was it? Dwight Moody who said, “It takes just as much faith to raise the funds in advance of a project as it does to trust they’re going to come in after you start it.”

I respect that because Jesus said, “It’s a fool who starts to build before he knows what he has.” Sometimes we say, “I’ve just got faith. I’m going to buy the house. I don’t know how I’ll make the payments.” You can have the faith that you’ll get the resources in advance too, right? But when have you ever seen a meeting dismissed, a project abandoned because we don’t have sufficient Spirit? You know what that means? We go forward spiritless so often because we figure, “Well, we’ve made the plans. We need to move ahead.” What would happen if we could have the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Romans chapter 8, verse 9, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” You remember when Jesus was washing the apostles’ feet and as he came to Peter, Peter said, “No, Lord, you’re not going to wash my feet. You’re the Lord. I’m the fisherman. It should be the other way around.” And Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you I have nothing to do with you. You are not mine. I am not yours.” That made Peter shudder to think that he would not be Christ’s and he said, “Lord, wash my hands and my head. Wash everything but please don’t say that I don’t belong to you.” The Bible says if we don’t have the Spirit of God we are none of his. So do you want the Spirit?

You can’t be God’s without the Spirit. Jesus said, “I am with you always even to the end.” How is he with us? God is with us through the person and the presence of his Spirit. It is the most desperate need of the church, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Now I’d like to recite for you some of the reasons that I think we need the Holy Spirit. We’ve got all these substitutes for the Holy Spirit. If we could have the Spirit we could probably do away with a lot of programs. I read something here. Do you know in 1967 the American Counseling Association had forty-five thousand councilors registered? In 1992 there were two hundred and eight thousand councilors registered, those are just the registered ones. And right now it’s probably twice that. You know why we need so many councilors? I don’t think the Branders and other councilors will mind my saying that if we could really have the Comforter we wouldn’t need so many councilors and put us out of business. I’d love to be put out of business in the capacity as a councilor. I think those of you who are policemen or doctors would love to be put out of business. Amen? But I think we’re depending on substitutes so often for what the Holy Spirit could do for us. Alright, how do we receive the fullness of the Spirit?

Now I’ve gone through some things I’ve observed in the Bible and I’ll take a few detours along the way. First of all, we need to pray and that might involve fasting and prayer. If it is our most desperate need then how deeply, how earnestly, how sincerely should we plead for this most desperate need? We should not only be praying. We should be fasting and praying and you heard me say in our last study when Jesus talks about the one specific thing that he mentioned we should pray for. You remember what I’m talking about? He said if you have a son who is hungry and he asks for a loaf of bread will you give him a stone? If he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent? “If he asks for an egg,” this is Luke’s rendition, “will you give him a scorpion? If you then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children how much more will your Father in heaven give” the Holy Spirit “to them that ask?” The only thing Christ mentioned that we should specifically ask for. When Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” what was he saying? Seek the Holy Spirit. When Solomon said “that I might have wisdom,” what was he asking for? Wisdom is one of the gifts of the Spirit. When Elijah said to Elisha, “What do you want?”

What did he ask for? A double portion of his spirit. It wasn’t as though Elijah had a special patent, brand name of the Spirit. He was asking for the Holy Spirit when he said, “I want a double portion of your spirit.” So what is the most urgent need, the most desperate crying thing that we should be pleading for? The Holy Spirit. How earnestly should we ask for that? Think about how many problems we bring on ourselves because we don’t have enough Spirit. Those five virgins ended up in the dark because they ran out of oil. How often have we been groping spiritually in the dark because we don’t have adequate presence of God, the Holy Spirit? We need to pray. Here’s some examples in the Bible. Deuteronomy 11:14, “That I will give you the rain in your land in due season, the first rain, the former rain and the latter rain, that you might gather in your corn and your wine and your oil.” Zechariah 10, verse 1. I like this one. “Ask ye of the Lord rain…” What does it say? “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain.” I want to pause right there. I’ve already set the stage that before the harvest of Jesus’ coming there’s going to be the latter rain and outpouring of the Spirit. What is God telling us we should do during that time when it’s to be expected? Ask for it.

Especially now we should be asking for it. “Ask ye for rain of the Lord in the time of the latter rain.” That’s now. “And the Lord will make bright clouds, flashing clouds…” That’s talking about clouds that are flashing with lightening and thunder. “…and then they will give showers of rain to everyone, grass in the field.” You know years ago they had Indians that would do a rain dance. They have many cultures and tribes in virtually every continent that had one form or another of rain dances and then they had medicine men who used to travel the west during the days of the settlers and they claimed to be able to seed the clouds using dynamite. They said it would pull in, create a vacuum and then cause rain, and people would pay these cloud seeders. Well, that was all hocus pocus, foolishness, medicine show. The closest thing you can get to a rain dance, wash your car. It seems to work. But you know today now they do have the technology to seed clouds. They just in recent years have proven scientifically that they can do it. They can fly through an existing cloud.

It’s called cloud seeding. They can fly through an existing cloud where there’s some… You know a lot of time there is famine because clouds are passing over but they don’t drop any rain. James talks about clouds without water. And they can fly these planes through the clouds and they have this gas on racks that they emit and it’s got sodium particles in it, and when they mix these sodium particles you know the moisture droplets need to attach to something and it forms raindrops and once they get started it creates a chain reaction in these clouds and there is a measurable downpour they would not have had if they did not seed the clouds. Well, Jesus has sent the promise of the Holy Spirit. He said, “If I go to the Father, the Comforter will come.” He has promised to send the Spirit, but he has said we must seed the clouds. We must pray. We must ask.

God’s Spirit is a person. He does not force himself on anybody who does not want him. The greatest gift is worth seeking for, and doesn’t the Bible say seek earnestly the best gifts? Well, God’s Spirit would be that gift. Luke chapter 11, verse 13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask!” I’d like to read a quote to you from that great book called Selected Messages. This is volume 1, page 121. Selected Messages, vol. 1, in case you want to jot this down and read the whole passage, page 121. “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of our needs. To seek this should be our first work. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord.” There is effort involved in seeking after God. Not because God is not willing to bestow his blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. So when we are praying for the Holy Spirit, what are we praying for? That God will prepare our vessels to receive the Spirit.

“Our Heavenly Father is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him than our earthly parents to give good gifts to their children, but it is our work by confession, humiliation, repentance and earnest prayer to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us his blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer.” Would you like a revival? You can only expect it in answer to prayer. Historically every revival can be traced to somebody or a group praying. When Pentecost took place what were the disciples doing in the upper room? They were praying. “While the people are so destitute of God’s Holy Spirit they cannot appreciate the preaching of the word, but when the Spirit’s power touches their hearts then the discourses given will not be without effect.” You know what that says? That says that some people come to church and the sermon just goes weesh and they’re looking at their clocks and they’re thinking about a thousand different things and what’s the problem? Is the problem the sermon?

Is the problem the service or is the problem maybe in their own hearts? The absence of the Spirit. What did I tell you? A dead weed doesn’t soak up any moisture. When you’ve already got some vitality you’ll be sending out your tentacles and trying to draw in any moisture in any sermon. The most urgent need that we have is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Would you like to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit? Now I’m going to take a detour here. Do you know what you’re really praying for when you pray for the latter rain? A storm. When you pray for the latter rain you are praying for a storm. Are you sure you want to pray for the latter rain? You’re not so sure now. That wasn’t near as hearty, was it? Let me tell you what Jesus says about the Last Days. The wise man builds his house on the rock. The rains descend, the floods come, but that house is not moved because it’s built on a rock. The fool builds his house on the sand. The rain descends, the flood comes and the house falls down. Do you notice that the storm comes to everybody in the last days?

The question is not whether or not the storm is coming. The question is just what are you building on? Is your house going to stand? Do you have enough oil in your lamp? Now back in the days of Elijah when there was a terrible famine for three and a half years. People were dying. They were in desperate need of rain. They needed that rain, a symbol of God’s Spirit. Elijah prayed for rain just like the apostles prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. How earnestly did he pray for rain? He prayed until it came. He got on his knees. He not only prayed, he looked, he expected it to come. He sent his servant to the coast and said, “Do you see anything yet?” because the moisture typically came from over the ocean. You know on the other end they had nothing but desert. They could always look towards the west and know where the rain was coming. “Nothing yet.”

He prayed again. He prayed again. He prayed again seven times. He kept praying until finally they saw a cloud coming. Just a little cloud. That’s all he needed for his faith. About the size of a man’s hand. And it grew into a great storm. Was that a blessing? What happened to Elijah when the storm came? He got wet. Listen. Let me read this to you. 1st Kings chapter 18, verse 45 and 46. “Now it happened in the meantime…” this is after he prayed seven times for the rain. He got caught in the storm. “…it happened in the meantime the sky became black with clouds and the wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away.” He had to ride away. He couldn’t see where he was going the rain was so heavy. The sky was so dark he went to the capitol there Jezreel or the nearest city Jezreel, and “the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah.” What does it mean the hand of the Lord? That’s the Spirit of the Lord. It’s used interchangeably in the Bible. The Spirit “of the Lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and he ran ahead of” the king “to the entrance of Jezreel.” He prayed for rain and he got wet, but when God sends his Spirit you might get caught in the storm. Now rain is a good thing depending on what your plans are. Isn’t that right? If you’ve just planted your seed and it rains, that’s good news.

I planted some flowers yesterday. It was a little overcast this morning. I thought, “Good! They’ll take root.” Scorching sun is not good. Plant some flowers, you get some rain. That’s good. Plant your crops, get some rain. That’s good. I’m doing a wedding tomorrow. It’s outside. If it rains, that’s bad. The rain depends on… how you feel about the rain depends on your plans. If you’re praying for the Holy Spirit to be poured out that could mess up your plans. Are you sure you want the outpouring of the Spirit? What happened when the disciples received the outpouring of the Spirit? Well, let’s take a quick look at some of the things that they encountered. You know Karen and I were up in Covolo a couple of weeks ago. We took a quick trip up for I don’t even think we stayed twenty-four hours because we flew the plane up and the next morning clouds started to gather. We didn’t expect that. You know this time of year it doesn’t rain very often and we had to cut our trip short because you can’t drive back. We weren’t going to get stuck up there for days and so I thought, “Dear, I know we’d like to stay longer. We’re not due back right away, but we better go because I’m not IFR rated. We’re going to have to fly home in the rain and that’s not safe.”

We took off and it was beginning to drizzle, and it wasn’t too bad and so I thought, “You know, the plane is really dirty.” And so I deliberately flew under a few clouds and it’s like steam cleaning your plane. You go a hundred and thirty miles an hour through rain and it’s a lot faster than having to do it by hand. I promise you that. But you know it depends on what your plans are. Well, what happened to the disciples when they prayed for the rain? They were praying in the upper room. First of all, before the story is even over we notice that the Holy Spirit came in the form of tongues of what? They were not, it was not cotton-candy. Fire can sometimes burn. Fire is a purging element. Fire is hot. It represents power and power is a dangerous thing. So we notice that the Spirit came. The baptism of the Spirit did not come like a gentle wind. It came as a loud noise and fire. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to preach and immediately they are mocked. As soon as they get the Holy Spirit they are being ridiculed and they are being mocked.

It says in Acts chapter 2, verse 13, “Others mocking said, ‘They’re full of new wine.’” So when you pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit you may be ridiculed. Have you ever noticed somebody when they’re full of the Spirit? They’ve got that holy enthusiasm. People say, “Ah, they’re crazy.” You’ve met some of these carbonated Christians. You know who I’m talking about. Now I’m not talking about speaking in tongues. You don’t have to roll around on the ground to be mocked. You don’t have to babble in tongues to be mocked. You live a holy life, a Spirit filled life, you’ll be mocked. Another thing we notice that happened. It was very expensive. After the Holy Spirit was poured out the Bible declares in Acts chapter 2, “Now all who believed were together…” This is the same chapter the Holy Spirit is poured out. “…they had all things in common, they sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. No man said that ought that he had was his own.” Great sacrifice. Very expensive. Many of them lost their jobs. Peter, James, and John; no record that they ever went fishing again. Andrew, Matthew could not go back to his tax collecting booth. Paul lost a very promising career in the Sanhedrin as a Pharisee. It was expensive for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

They were imprisoned and persecuted when they received the Holy Spirit. You read Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit is poured out. Acts chapter 3, they’re put in jail. Are you ready to pray for the Holy Spirit? Oh, now I don’t get a single “amen” now. I started out, “You want the Holy Spirit?” Yes! Then it’s been getting weaker all along the way. Don’t worry, friends, I’ll end on a positive note. They were in prison. The Bible says Acts chapter 4, “They laid hands on them, and they put them in custody.” Acts chapter 8, verse 1, “At that time a great persecution arose against the church.” That Spirit-filled church. You know why it works this way? Most of us have easy sailing because we are no threat to the devil. Which way would you rather have it? Would you rather have the approbation of the world and the disfavor of God, smooth sailing. Jesus said, “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you for so they did of the false prophets.” If you’re Spirit-filled you are going to rile up the resistance of the enemy. Isn’t that right? Do you want the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

They were persecuted. Something else we noticed is when the Holy Spirit is poured out there is very little toleration for even little sin. As soon as somebody began to teach inappropriate theology they jumped all over him. You remember Simon said, “Let me pay for the Holy Spirit.” And boy, they came down on him very heavy. They said, “Do you think the Holy Spirit can be bought as though it’s a commodity? It’s the person of God! God forbid!” They basically said, “You know where to go with your money to think that you could pay for the Holy Spirit.” Ananias and Sapphira just told a little half-truth about their offering and they dropped dead. They were members of the church. The Spirit of God was present in the church. The accountability level was much higher. We’d be having a lot of funerals if God showed that kind of accountability now for people robbing God, for people being dishonest, the little things we wink at now when they were full of the Spirit… What does the Spirit do? Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit, he will convict you of sin.”

Your sensitivity about sin is heightened when you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and someone might call you a fanatic for that. I think your love will be intensified too but you will not wink at sin as though it’s not something that is offensive to God especially when it’s in the camp as it was with Ananias and Sapphira. So in your praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, make sure that you know what you’re asking for. Are you prepared to have the Lord do a purging work in your life because sin becomes extremely offensive to God during that time? They were killed after the outpouring of the Spirit, Acts chapter 2. Acts chapter 8 they stoned Stephen to death. Acts chapter 12, James is killed by King Herod. It became a life and death issue. Of the twelve apostles only one died of old age. But those were Spirit-filled men, right? So do you want the Holy Spirit? If you’re going to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit be prepared to like Elijah get caught out in the storm. I want the baptism of the Holy Spirit because what are my options?

“He that doesn’t have the Spirit of God is none of His.” It’s either Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit or separated from Christ and flowing with the world to oblivion. Another thing we can do to be filled with the Holy Spirit is a willingness to obey God. Now you notice I did not say you have to be perfect to be filled with the Spirit. That’s a misconception. I think a perfect surrender, yes, a willingness to obey God. Ezekiel 36:27, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.” Now you see why you can’t teach someone if you’re perfect God will give you the Holy Spirit? It’s God’s Spirit in you that causes you to walk in his statutes. So the disciples when they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit what they were really doing is they were on their knees in the upper room confessing their faults to one another, praying for one another.

They humbled themselves before God which is a point I’ll get to in just a minute. And that made room in their hearts for the Holy Spirit and God filled them with the Spirit and they were willing to obey. But people who are boasting that they’ve got the Holy Spirit while they’re walking in high-handed disobedience to God, they’re liars. “He who says, ‘I know him’ and keepeth not his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. People who are saying, ‘Lord, Lord’ and they do not the things that God says, they’re hypocrites.” It’s a dangerous thing. Acts chapter 5, verse 32 Peter says, “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit” the Holy Spirit is a witness “whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Is that clear? You know I thought it was embarrassing to the church when a few years ago a number of these televangelists got into moral public trouble. It was in all the newspapers. Two or three of them, they all had the name Jimmy, and they got into trouble with various vices.

Every one of them spoke in tongues as evidence that they had the Holy Spirit during their programs, and then the media pulled back the veil and you found out that they had disobedient lives, living in moral compromise and you wonder was that really the Holy Spirit? Because God says he gives the Holy Spirit to those that obey him. It has to make you wonder. John 14, verse 15, you know this but you may have missed the connection. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” We often stop right there. There is no period at the end of it. Jesus goes on. “If you love Me, keep My commandments and…” the thought continues. “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He might abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” If you love Me, obey Me and I will give you the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a very powerful person and God cannot trust that power to those who will abuse that power like Samson. Did Samson have the Holy Spirit? Did he have the power of the Holy Spirit? Did he abuse the power?

I may say more about that when I talk about the gifts of the Spirit. 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, verse 4, “That every one of you might know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.” Our bodies are temples to be filled with God’s Spirit. You know there is an interesting dynamic. Out in the ocean sailboats are blown around by the wind. They go whichever way the wind goes. An iceberg is sort of a paradox in that. An iceberg might be going south while the wind is blowing fifty miles an hour north. How can that be? How can the iceberg move south when the wind is blowing fifty miles an hour north? Ninety percent of the mass of the iceberg is not seen and the current is not seen. It’s going a different direction. And there is something deeper for the Christian that is controlling them. If we are being controlled by whichever way the wind blows and the carnal nature well, then that’s not the Holy Spirit leading your life. When you are rooted in God and led by his Spirit you don’t go whichever way the wind blows, amen?

You’re being led and it might be against the wind, but you’re going with the current of God’s Spirit so there is a willingness to obey God, a deeper power. Seeking him in his word. Now I heard you say before that the Holy Spirit helps us understand the word, but the two are not detached. The filling of the Spirit often happens in concert with the proclamation of the word. I want to say this again. The filling of the Spirit, do you want to be filled with the Spirit? Not only comes in connection with prayer but the filling of the Spirit often comes in connection with the study of and the proclamation of the word. Follow this. Acts chapter 10, verse 44, “While Peter was speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.” It could happen here now. While we listen to the proclamation of the word our hearts are stirred, our hearts are prepared. The word of God is like a cultivator, a holy roto-tiller that breaks up the fallow ground and prepares us to receive the seed. Isn’t that right? And it not only happens in public settings. Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit come upon you while you were studying on your own? And all of a sudden through some promise in God’s word or some passage you read you just felt the Spirit of God present?

You probably got tired of hearing me say that I listen to Bible tapes when I go to sleep and I hear a lot of scripture that way. Sometimes I’m very quietly laying in bed, Karen sleeping, and I’m listening to a Bible tape and I’ll hear a passage of scripture and just the presence of God will become so real to me through his Spirit through the medium of the word. So we’ve missed many opportunities to I think experience the Spirit of God because he often comes in connection with the proclamation with the word. John chapter 6, verse 63, Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you they are spirit, and they are life.” And if we’re listening to and reading the word of God in connection with the Spirit it nurtures us. Somebody said, “If you have the Spirit without the word, you’ll blow up. If you have the word without the Spirit, you dry up. If you have both the word and the Spirit, you grow up.” We need the two of them together. Another characteristic, something to remember that we need for the baptism of the Spirit is to humble ourselves. If we would humble ourselves before the Lord, never are we farther from God than when we feel self-sufficient. Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, “You think you’re rich and increased with goods. You have no room in your hearts for me.”

God cannot fill those who are already full. It’s recognizing our need that prepares our hearts. What happened when the rain came in the days of Elijah? What did the people do? They fell down after, you remember, of course you would too after Elijah prayed and that fire came down from heaven and burnt up the sacrifice of Elijah the people fell down and they fell, the didn’t just kneel. They didn’t kneel on one knee like some guy proposing. They didn’t just kneel on both knees. They fell on their faces. And they said, “The Lord, he is God!” That is the most abject form of humbling yourself. When David repented he got on his face before God. To humble ourselves before the Lord. Humble yourself unto the mighty hand of God. He will lift you up. They said, “The Lord, he is God! The Lord, he is God!” And when they humbled themselves and acknowledged the Lord then he sent the rain. What were the apostles doing in the upper room before Pentecost? They were praying and you know what? They were putting aside their differences.

What had they been arguing about in the upper room prior to the Last Supper? Which of them was the greatest! You notice Jesus did not fill them with the Holy Spirit at the Last Supper. That’s when they really needed it, isn’t it? But their hearts were not prepared. He humbled himself. He washed their feet and they still weren’t prepared. It wasn’t until they had spent some time confessing their faults and putting aside their differences that God was able to fill them with the Spirit. Great messages can be transmitted on thin wires. God can do great things through small lines. You know I was talking to an engineer this week about a way to transmit our message from Africa when we do our satellite program in Africa this fall. We’re exploring the different technology available. Africa is on the other side of the world, and one satellite over Africa cannot be seen by North America. And he said that there is a technology available in Europe where they use a line, a fiber-optic line and they’re able to send a television picture and audio through one of these lines.

That’s mind-boggling to me. It just looks like a hair. Just a thin little fiber-optic line and the amount of information they’re able to send through that. If we humble ourselves before the Lord the least we make of ourselves the more God can make of us. Martin Luther said, “God creates from nothing so until we become nothing he can make nothing of us.” God creates from nothing so until we become nothing he do nothing with us. We must humble ourselves before the Lord. Corrie ten Boom put it this way. She used to use an illustration when she traveled and preached. She’d pull a glove out of her purse and she’d say, “This glove will not stand up. This glove is useless, but when I put my hand in the glove I move the glove.” It’s the hand filling the glove that’s doing the moving. You and I are the glove. The Holy Spirit is the hand and we want him to go into every finger and do the moving, amen? To control us, to be filled with the Spirit. Another point. Something we can do as a practical prerequisite for the filling of the Spirit, get together in God’s name in God’s house.

It may seem like a small thing and you might even think theologically, “Doug, you’re just trying like a pastor to get a commercial in for coming to church.” But it’s very biblical, friends. We should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, Hebrews chapter 10, “all the more as we see the day approaching.” Acts chapter 2, we’ve already quoted this several times, but you may have missed this part. It says when the day of Pentecost was fully come they were all with one accord in one place. They were all in one place. They were together. He did not wait until they were out at the bazaar doing their shopping, that they were scattered.

He waited until they were collected. Now that doesn’t mean God cannot pour the Holy Spirit out on you as individuals wherever you happen to be. It’s happened many times in the Bible where the Spirit of the Lord came upon an individual. But the latter rain experience, if I read my Bible right, is going to come something like the former rain experience where God’s people are going to be together humbling ourselves, praying, putting aside our differences together. They may be small groups, may be big groups. Here it was a hundred and twenty, but they were together. You can also read in Acts chapter 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” The place where they were assembled. It’s even in the Old Testament. Notice this.

God was getting ready to baptize the leaders of Israel with his Spirit and he told Moses, this is the book of Numbers, chapter 11, verse 24, “So Moses… gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle. Then the Lord came down in the cloud, and he spoke unto him, and the Lord took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders.” God said, “Gather the people together.” They gathered to the tabernacle. He took the Holy Spirit that he had given Moses and that same Spirit of God’s presence came on the people. He gathered them together for that. Now I need to add something out of faithfulness to the word. Two individuals named Eldad and Medad did not feel worthy to come with the seventy elders. They stayed in the camp. They thought, “We’re not worthy to have Moses’ spirit.”

The Holy Spirit fell on them too. So it can happen to individuals that might be separated but notice this. God told them to get together, didn’t he? So don’t miss that point. We need to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy to have the latter-rain experience fall upon Central Church on the day that you stay home? Wouldn’t you feel awful to think that you had missed that? So take every… Say, “Amen,” please just for me. Thank you. I just. Somebody said, “Yeah well…” I’d feel terrible if I missed it, being Pastor and everything, right? You want to be here when it happens. The Holy Spirit poured out while I’m at a camp meeting in another state. I’m going to feel awful. “Hey, Doug! You should have been here last week. The Holy Spirit came in Pentecostal power!” and I was gone. I’d feel terrible.

I want to be here when it happens. Amen? Another prerequisite for the filling of the Spirit, forgive. We have blisters in our vessels that render us unfit to receive the Holy Spirit. When we harbor and cherish and feed the anger and resentment that we have for other people we drive the Holy Spirit, we grieve the Holy Spirit. And it’s so important that we have the mind of Christ. As Jesus forgave us, so we ought to forgive one another, the Lord tells us. Acts chapter 2, they were not only in one place they were of one accord. It says they were in one accord and that’s not talking about a Honda. It’s talking about them being in unity where before they had been divided. They were in one accord together. They had put aside their differences. You know I for our tenth anniversary I bought Karen a wind chime. Somebody told me there is a tradition you’re supposed to get something metal or tin, is that right, for your tenth anniversary. And it’s a very beautiful wind chime. It’s got these little pipes that hang down.

It makes a nice sound when the wind blows but it’s not making any noise anymore when the wind blows because Nathan or one of the boys went out there with a stick and began to bat this little wooden thing down there, it’s kind of like, it’s the flapper that makes, it catches the wind and makes the dinger ding the bells. And now all I’ve got is a string going like this when the wind blows and we don’t hear the chime anymore because the flapper is gone. I’ve got to find one or make one and put it up there so we can hear the chimes again when the wind blows. Some of us have not heard the chimes for a while because our resentment about others has taken the flapper away and it needs to be restored. Maybe that’s not the best illustration, but I wanted to fit that into the sermon somewhere. I looked out the window and I saw that and… Okay, what did I say?

We need to forgive each other. Number seven: probably one of the most important is a recognition of our need, we need a hunger and thirst for God. Listen to what the promise is. Psalms 63, verse 1, “O God, You are my God; early I will seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and a thirsty land where there is no water.” Are you thirsty for God? Isaiah 44, verse 3, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground.” Do you know that you’re thirsty? Do you know that you’re dry? He says if you recognize your need he’ll give it to you. Luke chapter 1, verse 53, this was a prophesy. “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.” We need to know we’re hungry. We need to feel that thirst and that hunger for the Spirit of God so even though we know it may cause trouble we’re yearning for God.

You want him even if you knew that it might cost you your life. Would you pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit if it was going to bring a storm? What’s the alternative? Easy sailing into oblivion or a storm into eternity. Those are your choices. Terrible choice, isn’t it? But you can at least have peace because you know that you’re with God and you’re going the right way. You know there’s two kinds of waterwheels. You’ve got a waterwheel that is driven from below and a waterwheel that is driven from above, an undershot and an overshot waterwheel. One of our neighbors built a waterwheel up in the hills to produce electricity and he underestimated the power of the weight of the water. His is an overshot. It catches the water on the top and it turns this way.

There is twice the engineering power of an overshot waterwheel than one that’s run just from the flow of the current. When the water comes from above there is a lot more power. Some of us are operating right now with undershot. It’s just the current. We need the water that comes from above, that power that will come down and reign in our souls and give us the power of God’s Spirit. Amen? Bible says in John chapter 20, verse 22, one of the last things Jesus said to the people was, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Now if you read in Mark and Luke it talks about the great commission. In John you know what the great commission is? “Receive the Holy Spirit,” and he breathed on them. The Lord wants you to have the Holy Spirit. Jesus died to purchase you that greatest gift of him in you the hope of glory.

That’s what the Holy Spirit is, God’s presence in you. I understand that back during the pinnacle of the Roman era that sometimes during the games in the Coliseum the emperor would rain petals and perfume from flowers down on the people just to delight them and all the people would be bathed in these petals and this perfume that was thrown from servants around the amphitheater down upon the people to refresh in that sweet fragrance. God, our King, is wanting to refresh his people. He’s wanting to give us that sweet perfume of his Spirit. He is infinitely more willing to give than we are to ask, but the promise is that I’ll give water to him that is thirsty. “Ask ye of the Lord rain in that time of the latter rain and I’ll give you bright clouds.” You know there is one more verse I meant to read and I’ve neglected that.

Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Joel. Joel chapter 2, verse 28, a promise and a prophesy. “And it will come to pass afterward,” Peter quotes this and says, “It will come to pass in the last days.” “…that I will pour out My Spirit.” He doesn’t squirt, he doesn’t sprinkle, he pours. “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.” Wait a second!

I like the part about the Spirit, but blood and fire and pillars of smoke that sounds like a storm, but do you notice they come in concert? “The sun will be turned to darkness, the moon into blood before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.” Friends, I think the great and terrible day of the Lord is not far off. How urgently we need, how desperately we need to have the Spirit poured upon us. Amen? “And I’ll show wonders… and it will come to pass that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” We need to be asking, we need to be calling. “For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there’ll be deliverance.” Those that are calling for the Spirit will be delivered. “And the Lord said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”

Who is the remnant? We’re the remnant. It’s the right people. It’s the right time. It’s the right place. Are we doing the right thing? We need to be praying that God will pour his Spirit upon us, that sweet fragrance from above. Do you want to be filled with the Spirit? Are you aware of what you’re praying for? If you pray for the rain you may get caught out in the storm. Do you want the Holy Spirit? He will send the water to those that are thirsty. If you really want it you can expect it.

Father in heaven, Lord, we know that this is our most desperate need. We are praying for what Solomon asked for. We are praying for what Elisha asked for. We are praying for what the apostles prayed for and if ever a people existed that need the outpouring the Spirit I believe that this is the people, Lord. We need this more than we need anything. And so please come into our hearts now. We thank you for hearing our prayer. We believe this is something you want to give us even more than we want to ask. Lord, fill us with your Spirit that we might walk with Jesus, that we might love and forgive others, that we might have the power to witness. Everything in the Christian life is strengthened, is made possible by having God in us. And so bless us to this end, Lord that we can be a people who really know what it means to have you with us always. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

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Point of No Return (PB) by Joe Crews

Point of No Return (PB) by Joe Crews
God's Promises




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