Sunday, May 18, 2014

Noting further thoughts about the Spirit-filled life

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.

Introduction and review
Yesterday we began considering what is meant by the Bible's teaching on the "filling of the Holy Spirit". We considered Barnabas as an introduction to this important truth - being that he is described as being Spirit-filled and is a great illustration of what the Spirit-filled life can look like, sound like and act like.  We also compared the Spirit-filled life to rechargable batteries, noting that the Christian who is repeatedly filled with the Spirit following their conversion will have all they need to live the Christian life and be a blessing to others. Today we want to explore the Spirit-filled life a bit further by considering what some Bible teachers of the past have to note about it.  We will then conclude with some implications to be seen about the Spirit-filled Christian life. 

What some well-known Bible teachers of past and present have to say about the Spirit-filled Christian life. 
Charles Stanley notes the following about the filling of the Holy Spirit in his book - "The Wonderful Spirit-filled life": "A big part of the Spirit-filled life is learning to recognize the fingerprint of the Holy Spirit. Once you know what to look for and once you begin looking for it, you will be amazed at how real the Holy Spirit will become to you. Learning to recognize the Holy Spirit is the first step in learning to live the Spirit-filled life."1 It has been often said that the issue of the Spirit-filled life is not about getting more of the Holy Spirit as it is of Him getting more of you.  As we saw a few days ago, the Spirit's work of baptizing a believer connects them to the Person and Power of Christ.  We cannot get more nor less of the Spirit, since He shares in the same eternal nature as the Son and the Father.  You cannot add nor subtract from an Infinite Person.  However as Christians, we are finite and thus there can always be more of us under the Spirit's control and influence.

The late Bible scholar Dr. John Walvoord notes that the Spirit-filled life is the primary source of spiritual experience. He writes: "A careful study of the nature of the filling of the Holy Spirit will reveal that it is the source of all vital spiritual experience in the life of the Christ."2 

Thus at stake in the Spirit-filled life is the producing of my experience of Jesus' Person and power by way of being under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. Positionally I am made right with God by His supreme declaration of justification over me at saving faith.  If justification can be considered to be the center-piece truth of the Christian's conversion, then the Spirit-filled life ought to be considered the center-piece reality governing the Christian's post-conversion life.   
Oswald Chambers in his book: "My Utmost of His Highest" notes this about the Spirit-filled Christian life: "God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, 'Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.'" 

Closing thoughts for today
In looking at what these three authors have said about the filling of the Holy Spirit, we can note how from differing angles, the Spirit-filled life is about bringing you from a point of passivity about God to activity in God.  On the same token, the Spirit-filled life's aim is to train you in abandoning self-sufficiency in favor of looking to Jesus Christ as your all-sufficiency.  In as much as the Spirit-filled Christian life is about the Holy Spirit getting more of you and you being saturated by Him, truly the Spirit filled Christian will be marked as one who is truly saturated and filled with Jesus Christ. 

1. Charles Stanley. The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life. Nelson. 1992

2. John Walvoord. The Holy Spirit. Zondervan. Page 189