Saturday, May 17, 2014

Introducing the Filling of the Holy Spirit

Acts 11:22-24 The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. 23 Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.

Review from past couple of days: Spirit-baptism and water baptism
The past couple of days we have taken some time to consider the Holy Spirit's important work of "plugging" people into Jesus at saving faith through what the Bible calls "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit".  Once a person is converted to Christ by grace through faith, having been "plugged in" by Spirit-Baptism, they then "go public" by bearing witness to others through the Christ-ordained rite that is designed to be a sign signifying the  reality of such an event - the ordinance of water baptism.  

Water baptism is the Christian's first major step of their obedience in post-conversion and pictures not only what took place in the Spirit's baptism of them at saving faith,but also communicates their desire to be  under Christ's Lordship and following the Spirit's leading through the scriptures.  With that brief review, we now turn our attention to the focus of today's post that describes the Spirit's primary, repeated ministry in the Christian's life - what the Bible calls the "Spirit-filled" life.

Introduction: Rechargeable batteries and the Spirit-filled life
It is amazing how many batteries one can go through when raising children as active and fun-loving as our own.  Often our smaller children (or even the bigger ones) will come to my wife or me and inquire about batteries. No sooner do we buy those big packs of 10 or more batteries then to find out that we need to purchase more batteries! That is where my wife made the choice to purchase rechargable batteries and a battery charger! As long as we keep those chargers plugged in, the kids will never run out of energy for their toys, but will simply know by looking at the chargers filled with rechargeable batteries whether or not they have what it takes to power their favorites things. 

What ought to characterize the Christian throughout the remainder of their post-conversion life? The Spirit-filled life.

Just as in the illustration above, you and I as Christians - whether new to the faith or converted for years - continue to live life in this world - with the batteries of the Christian walk needing  recharged.  The Spirit-filled life can be likened to the repeated need to be recharged and influenced by the Spirit following one's conversion to saving faith.  

Meet a Spirit-filled man by the name of Barnabas
Acts 11:19-30 details the events the were still following from the persecution of Stephen the Martyr in Acts 7-8.  The church had blossomed and grown despite the hardship and tribulations that she endured.  Acts 11:21 records a major development in regards to the progress of the church at Antioch - "And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord." These people were getting converted as a result of the Spirit's work through the preaching of the Gospel. But now with the people becoming new believers, what was going to be needed? How was this fledgling Christian movement in Antioch going to continue on from this point? Enter the man Barnabas and the key trait which he possessed - being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 11:24, quoted at the beginning of today's post, records how Barnabas "....was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith."  In the remainder of time that we have I would like us to briefly consider what the rest of Acts 11 (particularly 11:23-25 and 30) has to teach us about the filling of the Spirit in regards to is characteristics.

Characteristics of the Spirit-filled life. Acts 11:23-25, 30
1. Clear testimony  11:23a
2. Confident joy      11:23b
3. Consistent in Faith 11:24a
4. Kingdom fruit 11:24b
5. Counted reliable  11:30

Certainly there are other scriptures in the New Testament that bear out more examples and more traits - yet Barnabas' is a great introduction to the Spirit-filled life in terms of what it looks like, sounds like and acts like.  Barnabas (whose name means "son of encouragement) was the type of Christian you enjoyed being around.  The Spirit-filled Christian not only has enough "rechargable energy" for their own Christian walk but they operate in the "over-flow" of the Holy Spirit to the affecting of others.  I think it is only apropos that in the very first place that we find the name "Christian" being used to describe Jesus followers that it should be attached to this idea of being "filled with the Holy Spirit." Having looked at the traits that accompany the Spirit-filled life, we will explore further truths about this wonderful Biblical truth tomorrow.  

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