Wednesday, August 9, 2017
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 young children. Whenever the children were younger, they would come to my wife or me and inquire about batteries. We would make sure we had fresh ones - ready-to-go. Now-a-days, most in our family have various devices that need plugged in so as to get "recharged". The performance of electronic devices will degrade unless you plug them in for a periodic recharge. 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. All Christians live life with the "batteries" of the Christian walk (commitment, obedience, love for God and others), needing recharged. God's people are not only called to live out a certain spiritual position or privilege, but also to walk forth in power. 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 early church in the Book of Acts 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
Notice the following characteristics of the Spirit-filled life:
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. 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 that was a joy to be 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 in the Bible that we find the term "Christian" 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.