Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Maintaining the Spirit's Fire

Holy Spirit and Fire

by Dennis Pollock

To the Ephesian believers the apostle Paul wrote, "And do not be drunk with wine, which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." It seems a rather strange command, since Paul is asking these folks not to do something, but to have something done to them. Clearly we cannot fill ourselves with the Holy Spirit, but according to the Scriptures we can so posture ourselves that this mysterious experience becomes a frequent and normal part of our life.

It is far more common for most believers to experience an initial or occasional filling with the Spirit than to enjoy constant and regular fillings from day to day and season to season of their lives. As pleasant as it may be to recall cool drinks of living waters taken years ago, those times of refreshment had their statute of limitations. That which blessed and refreshed and empowered us in times past cannot sustain us today. Like the psalmist we must be able to say, "I have been anointed with fresh oil." It is encouraging to learn that there are things we can do to bring this about in our lives. We do not have to sit around and hope that God, by a sovereign whim, may decide to fill us with His Spirit. The command to be filled with the Spirit is a tremendously encouraging promise that we may indeed be filled with the Spirit, and it infers that we have something to say in this matter. With this in mind let us consider several key ingredients that, when placed together in our lives, will ensure that the Spirit's fire and power are never quenched.

Knowing Where to Go

In searching for anything or anyone it is of the utmost importance that we know where to look. You won't find floral arrangements in an auto parts shop, nor will you see printer cartridges in the lingerie department. If you lost your wallet in downtown Tulsa, you would be foolish to go looking for it in New York City. By itself, knowing where to go doesn't guarantee you'll get what you're looking for, but it sure ups the odds.

When it comes to the filling of the Holy Spirit, there is no mystery about where we go to find this experience. Our Lord Jesus has made it plain that He is the source of the living waters. He declares:

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit… (John 7:37-39).

 Just as we must come to Jesus by faith to receive salvation initially, so we must come to Jesus by faith to receive the anointing and filling of the Holy Spirit continually. Peter affirmed this as he preached on the Day of Pentecost after the Holy Spirit had first fallen upon the 120 who had been praying in the upper room. He declared: "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear (Acts 2:32,33).

Notice that it is Jesus who has been exalted to the right hand of the Father, and it was Jesus who poured out the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. And He has been pouring out His Spirit and filling His people with the Holy Spirit ever since! It is the Lord Jesus who is our Good Shepherd, the One who anoints our head with oil (the Holy Spirit) and makes our cup to run over. To the Jews of His day Jesus said, "You will not come to Me that you might have life," but to every Christian who does come He gladly gives life – both the divine life we receive at the new birth and a continual overflow of the living waters which we receive from Him from day to day, as we come to Him again and again by faith.

Here is a mystery which is absolutely vital for all of us to see: Jesus is who He is whether we believe it or not, but when we believe on Him in His various offices, we receive incredible benefits. Jesus is the Savior of the world. This is true whether you believe this or not. Your believing doesn't make Him Savior; this He already is and always will be. But when you believe on Him as your Savior, wonderful things happen, and your life is immeasurably enhanced. You receive the gift of eternal life and the forgiveness of your sins. You become a child of God.

This is likewise true in Jesus' role as the One who fills with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist said, "He (Jesus) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit..." Jesus is the Fountain of living waters whether you know it or not, like it or not, or believe it or not. But when you come to Him in faith, fully believing Him to be your Fountain of living waters, and looking directly to Him for the filling of the Holy Spirit, you will not be disappointed. He will be for you that which you trust Him to be. Faith in Jesus is inexorably linked with the fillings of the Holy Spirit. But it is not just a generic faith. It is a faith that fully recognizes that Jesus is our Fountain of Living Waters.

The Value of the Word

Many suppose that the Scriptures and the filling of the Spirit are entirely separate – the Bible is for our instruction, the Spirit for our inspiration. They are separate and yet they are also very closely linked together. The Word of God is an indispensable aspect of the Spirit-filled life. In Hebrews we read: "The word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two edged sword… (Hebrews 4:12). The Greek word translated active means filled with divine energy. This is telling us that God's word is linked with the power of the Holy Spirit.

In Psalm 1 we learn of a blessing granted to the man who meditates in the word and laws of God day and night. This man is compared to a tree planted by the rivers which brings forth fruit and never withers. This strongly suggests the filling of the Holy Spirit. Where there is meditation and feeding upon the God-breathed words we find in the Scriptures, there will be the power of the Holy Spirit. Certainly church history bears this out. The men most filled with faith and power in their lives were just those who loved, read, honored, thought about, meditated on, preached, taught, and delighted in God's word. Try to find some man or woman who was filled with the Holy Spirit all their days, and yet their Bible was unmarked and rarely read. There are no such creatures. Certainly we see this in the lives of the apostles. These men who healed the sick, raised the dead, and led multitudes to Christ gave this statement as a summary of their priorities: "We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).

In some mysterious process the Holy Spirit unleashes the power of God's word in our lives as we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The more of the Word in our lives, the more powerful the filling. The disciples of Jesus spent over three years learning from Him and drinking in the divine words that fell from His lips. By the end of that time they didn't seem all that impressive. They still argued over status and position, Peter denied Christ, and they all lost faith for a season. But although these disciples looked perferfectly ordinary, in truth they were anything but. Their time drinking in the word of God from God Himself had left them walking time bombs. It only required the Holy Spirit's fire on the Day of Pentecost to ignite that which was stored in their hearts. Empowered by the Holy Spirit they rose up to shake the world. When the Spirit came upon them the Word of God within them was converted from potential to kinetic energy. That which had been stored and dormant now became activated and powerful. 3,000 people were born again that day – and the church and the apostles were just getting started!

The Value of the Promises

It is vital that we understand that the filling of the Spirit is a grace gift from God through Christ. As with all grace gifts, this experience is given not because we have been good little boys and girls, but on the basis of faith in Christ. For this reason the promises of God play an important role in this process. When we come before God with a request, we must never come empty-handed. We must come before Christ with His own promises. We do not expect to receive the power of the Spirit because we beg with great fervor or because we have had an especially righteous week. We come to Jesus reminding Him of His own words. We remind Him that He has promised that those who come to Him will never hunger; those who believe on Him will never thirst (John 6:35). We remind Him that He has promised that the rivers of living water would flow in those who believe on Him (John 7:38), and then affirm boldly that we do believe on Him, quoting the Scriptures which declare Him to be the Son of God, Savior, Lord, and God manifest in human flesh.

And then we do a very daring thing: we take Him at His word. Having petitioned Jesus for fresh filling and anointing, we then believe that He hears us and receive this filling by faith. We may or may not feel something. We may have a supernatural phenomenon or we may not. But whatever the feelings or phenomenon, or lack thereof, we receive the filling of the Spirit by faith, we stay in His Word, and we trust Jesus for frequent empowerings as the need arises. Sooner or later there will be feelings. But more than that there will be divine enablement and joy to do the work Christ has called us to do.

Drawing on the Holy Spirit

One further ingredient indispensable to the Spirit-filled life is the need for us to frequently draw on the power of the Spirit by operating in our particular gifts and calling. The power of the Spirit is always going to be strongly manifested when we are doing what we have been called to do. Whenever Samson found himself in a battle or conflict where his warrior anointing was needed, we read, "And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him…" He might be walking along minding his own business not particularly sensing or experiencings the Spirit's power, but let him be challenged or his life put in danger and His old Friend, the Holy Spirit, would show up with power.

We were created by God for particular tasks, and the anointing of the Spirit will always be most evident when we are fully engaged in those tasks. When a baby nurses his mother, the milk is always in accordance with the demand. As the baby grows and his appetite increases, the supply of milk increases proportionately. When Momma decides its time to wean her baby and stops nursing, the flow of milk soon dries up. Believers gifted and anointed to sing need to be singing frequently, those called to preach or teach need to be opening their mouths for Christ. Administraters need to be administrating, writers need to be writing, and men and women gifted in making money need to be making lots of money and generously supporting the work of the gospel. The more we practice our calling, the greater the measure of the Spirit's filling and power we will enjoy. Paul charged Timothy to "stir up the gift of God" within him, and this is how we stir our gifts and draw on the Spirit's power.

No, we cannot fill ourselves, there are some things we can do which can place us in a position for continual filling with the Holy Spirit. An initial filling is good, but a lifetime of fullness is far better. Let us spend much time in the word of God, feeding upon Jesus Christ, the Bread of life. And let us come to Him, our Fountain of living waters again and again, reminding Him of His promises and receiving from Him this precious filling with the Holy Spirit. It is the inheritance of every Christian to be filled, stay filled, and live filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

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