Though he gave his life to Jesus at an early age and began his ministry in the year 1855 famed American evangelist, pastor, and author D.L. Moody recounts an interesting experience that occurred in the year 1871 he claims changed his life forever.
Moody tells how two women used to attend his meetings and sit on the front row. He could see by the expression on their faces that they were praying. At the close of one of the services they approach him and told him, “We have been praying for you.”
“Why don't you pray for the people?” Moody would ask. “Because you need the power of the Spirit,” they would say. “I need the power! Why,” Moody would later recall. “I thought I had power. I had the largest congregation in Chicago, and there were many conversions. I was in a sense satisfied. But right along those two godly women kept praying for me, and their earnest talk about anointing for special service set me to thinking.
One day I asked them to come and talk with me, and they poured out their hearts in prayer that I might receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. There came a great hunger into my soul. I did not know what it was. I began to cry out as I never did before. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service.”
Moody recounts the night his life changed when he was baptized with the Holy Spirit. He writes, “My heart was not in the work of begging,” he said. “I could not appeal. I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York -- oh, what a day! -- I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years…
I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world -- it would be as the small dust of the balance.”
At Calvary316 it is our heart and singular focus to use the time we have together to equip you for the ministry God has called you to… Which is why I want to take some time this morning and address why it is that the Holy Spirit in not only necessary, but critical for you to find any success in this life we’ve all been called to in Christ Jesus.
Acts 1:4-8, “And being assembled together with them, Jesus commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’”
Set the Scene: During the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension Jesus has spent His time providing His followers an important set of instructions - which culminated with this final command for this group of men and women to “not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father!” How interesting that in the same sermon where He’d give the great commission sending them into the world He first says “wait?”
Jesus then communicates Three lessons about the Holy Spirit.
First, Jesus introduces the person of the Holy Spirit. He instructs them to wait for the “Promise of the Father” only to then more specifically say the “Holy Spirit.” In the Greek this word “Promise” is a noun meaning “the fulfillment of a promise given.” So it’s logical to ask… What had the Father promised? Scripture is clear the long awaited “Promise” was that the “Holy Spirit” would one day indwell God’s people.
Ezekiel 36:25-28, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land… You shall be My people, and I will be your God.”
Luke 11:9-13, “I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? If he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask!”
To this point in John 16:7 Jesus made a rather incredible and in some ways unbelievable comment. He said, “I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
Q: What possible “advantage” could we find in the presence of the Holy Spirit that we wouldn’t have in the bodily person of Jesus? I mean both are equal members of the triune Godhead. Both equally sovereign, holy, and powerful... How then is the presence of the Holy Spirit to our better advantage than the bodily presence of Jesus Christ?
A: Unlike Jesus, because the Holy Spirit lacks a physical form and is therefore omnipresent He has the ability to indwell every believer. The Gospel records are clear that when Jesus came to earth to dawn human flesh He did so by willingly laying aside some of His divine attributes. For example while on earth, Jesus couldn’t be in all places at all times. He was limited to His physical dwelling. His earthly body!
It also seems that the glorified Jesus is still in such a limited state. We’re told Jesus ascended from earth to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to be our “Advocate, High Priest, and Mediator.” Additionally, at some near future date Jesus will return to earth from heaven to establish a future kingdom... Not exactly the activities of the omnipresent!
Now don’t get me wrong… Is Jesus in our midst this morning? Yes, He is! But understand.... He’s in our midst not because He’s come to us, but because we’ve taken time to come before Him. Hebrews 4:16 we’re invited, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Understand… If Jesus remained on earth the limitations of His ability to help us in our time of need would be obvious. Instead, He knew His job would be more effective in the halls of heaven, and thus it would be to our advantage to have a “Helper” able to aid each of us by providing the internal power to live the life God has called us to live!
Secondly, Jesus defines the role of the Holy Spirit. How interesting it is that Jesus instructs them to “wait in Jerusalem” for the “Holy Spirit to come upon you.” In order to understand what Jesus means with such a phrase you need to first understand Scriptures describe three different interactions with the Spirit using three different Greek prepositions.
1. In John 14:17 Jesus said, “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you…” In the Greek this preposition “with” or “para” means “to come alongside of.” This word describes the work of the Holy Spirit in the world convicting people of sin for the purpose of drawing them to Jesus.
2. In the same John 14:17 passage Jesus continues saying, “For He dwells with you and will be in you.” In the Greek this preposition “in” or “en” means “to come within.” This word describes the work of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer at the point of conversion for the purposes of salvation and regeneration.
Note: When Jesus said this notice He did so using the future tense - “Will be in you.” And yet now for the people Jesus is speaking to in Acts 1 this second work of the Holy Spirit had already occurred… In John 20:22 after Jesus’ resurrection we’re told, “Jesus breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
3. And yet, in Acts 1:8 when Jesus indicates, “The Holy Spirit comes upon you” an entirely different Greek word is being used. In the Greek this preposition “epi” or “upon” means “to come over.” This word describes the work of the Holy Spirit uniquely filling the believer to the point of overflowing as well as flowing from the person’s life.
Note: For the follower of Jesus the first of these three interactions of the Spirit seems to cease when the second takes place; and yet, the Scriptures indicate this third is not limited to a one time occurrence. What’s often described in Scriptures as the fresh “filling of the Holy Spirit” seems to be a continual experience of the believer.
Examples: In Acts 2 the Spirit comes upon the believers, but then we’re told in Acts 4:8 that “Peter filled with the Holy Spirit said to them.” Then in Acts 4:31 we’re told “when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
Thirdly, Jesus describes the benefits of this unique filling of the Holy Spirit. It seems from our text that two things would immediately result from the Holy Spirit coming “upon” them: (1). They would be “baptized with the Holy Spirit,” and (2). They would “receive power to be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
As it pertains to this “baptism of the Holy Spirit” Jesus sets up a comparison: “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Note: Jesus said “you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” not “baptized in” or that it’s a “baptism of.” Jesus is saying the Spirit coming upon the believer has an effect similar to what occurred when John baptized with water. In Mark 1 we’re told, “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance of sins... And he preached, “I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Understand… John’s baptism with water was all about demonstrating an outward repentance for sins; whereas, being baptized with the Holy Spirit was all about experiencing an inward purification from sins. Baptism “with water” symbolically cleansed the outward man, but baptism “with the Holy Spirit” served to practically cleanse the inward man.
Describing the result of the Holy Spirit coming upon a believer using the phrase “baptism” wasn’t an accident. Beyond this… I don’t think Jesus waiting 40 days after the resurrection to bring up this idea was coincidental either. Throughout the Old Testament and consistent with Jewish religious culture the number 40 represented a new spiritual beginning. One Rabbi even claimed, “The number forty had the power to lift up a spiritual state.”
According to Hebrew tradition if a person was considered ceremonially unclean they were required to immerse themselves in a pool of water known as a mikveh before they could enter the Temple. The act of immersing in the water signified cleansing and purity.
Priest were required to bath before preforming their religious duties. Men were required to bath before offering sacrifices. Woman were required to bath following childbirth. Gentiles desiring to convert were required to bath. In each instance the traditional proceeding was called a baptism. The Talmud stated a mikveh “as the consummate Jewish symbol of spiritual renewal” had to be filled with no more or no less than 40 se'ahs of water.
Note: The tradition itself found precedent in the story of Noah: The rain poured for 40 days and submerged (or baptized) the whole world in water. When the waters finally subsided, the earth had been purified from the vileness and experienced a spiritual renewal.
Furthermore, what’s interesting about the mikveh was how it was designed… Because the Rabbi’s believed impurities required "living water" such as springs to remain pure, the mikveh in the Temple was designed with an intricate plumbing system that allowed them to always remain in contact with a natural source of living water.
You see waiting 40 days to discuss the coming of the Holy Spirit - only to then describe the results of the Spirit coming upon the believer using this common religious term “baptism”... Presented symbolism Jesus’ Jewish audience would have immediately recognized. This coming “upon” spoke of a spiritual renewal, purification, and cleansing!
Before we continue let me take this one step deeper… As we know upon regeneration I have been made positionally righteous before God having been justified by the blood of Christ. And yet, practically speaking because this sinful flesh remains until I’m resurrected into glory following death I still struggle walking in the new position I’ve been granted.
As many know all to well the struggle of the flesh’s sinful desires remains even after I’ve been initially filled with the Spirit. When we talk about this “epi” work of the Spirit coming upon us for the purposes of renewal and purification please note it does not pertain to your position in Christ, but instead the practicalities of your life reflecting that position.
Because I continue to struggle with sin it is necessary I am continually baptized in the Spirit. I crack. He mends. The fills me again. Inwardly, this renewed filling serves to remind me that I am a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away, the man of sin is no longer me, there is no condemnation! And in this sense I’m baptized anew into His grace!
While the first result of the Holy Spirit coming “upon” the believer is this incredible renewal though this baptism, the second result is that they would “receive power to be witnesses to Me.” In the Greek this word “power” is “dynamis” or “dynamite.”
And for what reason will we receive this power from the Holy Spirit? “To be witnesses to Me!” In the Greek “witnesses” is literally “martys” from which we get our English word “martyrs.” The word describes a person who dies for another or looses his life for a cause. In this context, a witness is a person who lays down his life not to but for Jesus… “Witness to Me.”
Also notice Jesus says we’re to “be witnesses.” Keep in mind there is a big difference between “being” verses “doing.” The word described who you are and not what you are doing! Dying doesn’t make you a martyr. Dying confirms you were a martyr. Martyrdom or “being a witness” to Jesus isn’t something you do, it’s something you’ve surrender to!
“When the Holy Spirit has come... You shall be witnesses.” Understand… This wasn’t a command given by Jesus, but was rather a statement of fact! The words “shall be” are in the indicative not imperative. Jesus wasn’t recommending we become witnesses; He said we would be witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon us! A natural result!
Please realize this second result of the Holy Spirit coming upon the believer is that the believer receives power enabling them to die to self and live for Christ. Jesus set this example when He begin His public ministry? Mark 1:10, “And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.” The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus enabling Him to live the ultimate life of martyrdom.
Quick recap… Jesus introduces the person of the Holy Spirit. Then He defines the role of the Holy Spirit coming upon the believer. Before finally describing the benefits of the unique filling - Baptism for renewal and power to die to self so that we might live for Christ!
What is amazing about this passage is that Jesus commanded His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem because He knew they really could do nothing effective for the Kingdom of God until the Spirit came upon them for cleansing and empowering!
Consider the implications of this reality... Here we have a group of people who have spent three plus years walking with Jesus - They’ve seen the miracles, listened to His messages, witnessed both His death and resurrection… Additionally, they’ve been redeemed from sin by Christ’s work on the cross - regenerated by the indwelling Spirit - born again by grace through faith; and yet, it’s clear to Jesus an essential, vital element of the Christian life was missing... The power of the Holy Spirit!
Understand: Though “rebirth” is a crucial first step to “life in Christ,” it is by no means the mechanism by which we can attain all that God has for us! “Salvation” as a most glorious work indeed provides me newness, but I must have the Holy Spirit infuse me with power from on High if I am to live the new life I’ve been called to!
Think of it this way.... Salvation might open my eyes to a whole new world, but without complete reliance upon the Spirit’s influence I would be powerless to experience it!Christian… The life Jesus died for you to live requires more than being saved from sin, it necessitates you being filled, refilled, and filled again with the power of the Holy Spirit!
If you had a miserable week filled with failure… You lost it with your kids… You said hurtful things to your spouse… You stumble and fell flat on your face and now you’re heart is filled with guilt and condemnation… Do you know what you need? Fresh life from a fresh filling! You need the Holy Spirit to come upon you and immerse you in His love and grace.
If you’re tired in the race set before you… At the end of your rope… If you drug yourself to church this morning unenthused and not sure what to do about it… If you’re trying to turn a corner and deeply long to live a righteous life consistent with your righteous position, but you seem like your running on nothing but fumes… Do you know what you need? Fresh power from a fresh filling! You need the Holy Spirit to come upon you and provide the power you so desperately need to live the life He’s called you to and the ministry He set before you!
Friend… Understand, you can do nothing for the Kingdom of God apart from the power of the Holy Spirit! It’s the fuel that drives your walk with Jesus! You can’t live a Godly life. You can’t engage in lasting work. You are useless apart from the Spirit’s continual filling!
Well… This leaves us with a pressing question… How can I have the Spirit come upon me this morning? In Luke 11, Jesus said, “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Then in this passage Jesus told them to “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” The key… Ask and receive by faith!
Understand, a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit is a matter of the believer “asking” then “receiving” by faith. The “Promise of the Father” is a gift we ask for then received. It’s not something to be earned, deserved, or conjured up. All you need to be filled is to ask your heavenly Father and then receive by believing He followed through on His promises!
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