Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Empowerment for the Christian Walk - 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: 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.  Although it has been several years, when younger children were smaller, they would come to my wife or me and inquire about batteries. Even our older ones - or we ourselves - find the batteries in our devices needing recharged. No sooner do we buy those big packs of 10 or more batteries then to find out that we need to purchase more batteries! For electronic devices, unless you plug them in for a periodic recharge, their performance will degrade. Having available power is important whether we are talking about children's toys, cell-phones or computers.

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.  We need empowerment. 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. To be a Spirit-filled Christian is to be a Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered one.  

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 or Spirit-empowered 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.  

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." Just as the new birth or regenerative work of the Holy Spirit constitutes the epicenter of conversion; the filling or empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit occupies the center of the post-conversion Christian walk. The filling of the Spirit enables me to become in experience of my sanctification (i.e progressive Christian growth) whom God has legally declared me to be in justification in salvation. As we find Barnabas to be a grand example of this precious truth of the Spirit-filled life, may those who are Christians heed the admonition of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:18 - to be filled with the Holy Spirit.