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The Filling with the Spirit as seen in the book of Acts January 3, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Evangelism, Filling with the Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Religion, Sermons, Signs and Wonders, Spiritual Goals, Spiritual Power, Tongues, Witnessing.
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THE FILLING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 2:1-39

People often pray that I would be filled with the Spirit and I need to be. I need the filling of the Spirit so that I might have the capability to witness of Christ. I need that capability in my preaching, my praying, in my ministry. The mother, however, who is trying to teach her children the ways of Christ also needs the filling of the Holy Spirit to enable her, otherwise her efforts will be powerless. She will not be able to pass on to her children the witness of Christ. The ladies who keep our nursery and teach our preschoolers need this filling. Our teenagers need this filling. Our retirees need this filling. We all need this filling so that we might witness of Christ.

A. It is clear from the book of Acts that people can be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13). Now the word “with” can be used a couple of different ways.

In Ephesians 5:18 we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In the context of Ephesians, it seems that the Holy Spirit is the filler. I am normally the one who makes the coffee in our house. There are specific things that I must do to make coffee. One of those things is to place the coffee filter into the coffee maker and then I fill the coffee filter “with” a plastic scoop “with” ground coffee. To fill a coffee filter “with” a plastic scoop is a much different meaning than to fill a coffee filter “with” ground coffee. Ephesians 5:18 seems to be indicating that the Holy Spirit is the means, “the plastic scoop”, by which we are filled. Now this is a subject for a different sermon but if you want to know with what the Holy Spirit fills us, Ephesians 3:19 indicates that it is the fullness of God with which the Holy Spirit fills us.

1. Luke, however, both in his gospel and in the book of Acts uses the phrase “filled with the Spirit” differently. The Holy Spirit is the content (the ground coffee) of the filling (compare 2:2, 4). If you look at verse 2 we have an example of a filling. It says a sound like a rushing mighty wind filled the whole house. Now we are all familiar with the way in which the sound of a blowing wind can drown out all other sounds. It is not that the other sounds do not exist but the sound waves do not go very far. They are overwhelmed by the sound of the wind. On that day, no matter where in that house you were, you could hear that sound. You could not get away from it. In fact, according to verse 6, I think you could have heard the sound outside of the house also. The people who Luke interviewed for his book were in the house, perhaps in different parts of the house but wherever they were in the house the sound like a rushing mighty wind was to be heard. It filled the house.

That is what Luke means when he says that these people were filled with the Spirit. He was in them and there was not a part of their being in which He was not.

2. His filling results in action from the ones who were filled (2:4-11). In this particular case, they were given the ability to speak in tongues, that is, in other languages. Now we need to be careful and not try to become “monkey-see, monkey-do Christians.” The filling with the Spirit is real but it does not always result in tongues speaking. In Acts 4:8, 13, 31 we see that the filling of the Spirit resulted in boldly proclaiming the gospel of Christ. That was also the main characteristic of Stephen in chapters 6-7, a man filled with the Spirit and bold to speak the gospel of Christ. After Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 9:18-25, we find him boldly preaching Jesus as the Christ.

In this chapter we find that boldness to preach the wonderful works of God also accompanied those who spoke in tongues. Miracles may or may not occur but the filling of the Spirit of God resulted in action, most often bold speaking of the gospel of Christ.

Now these actions are not always understood. On the day of Pentecost, it was assumed by some that these men were drunk. In Acts 4:13, the rulers recognized that these men had been with Jesus. In Thessalonica, the people saw Paul and Silas and Timothy and became followers of them and of Christ to such an extent that their enemies claimed that these men had turned the world upside down. It is clear that these men and women acted because of the filling with the Spirit in their lives.

B. People then can be filled with the Holy Spirit but generally it is only God’s people who are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:14-21, 38-39). This is really the point of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. It is not just that people can be filled with the Holy Spirit but that God’s people are the ones now filled with the Holy Spirit and that you can become part of God’s people only through faith in Jesus as the Christ.

Peter is here making it clear that the outpouring of the Spirit on God’s people had been prophesied (2:14-18) and was to a certain extent being fulfilled before their eyes. Obviously, not everything that Joel predicted was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. That fulfillment is still to come when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. What was fulfilled though was the filling of all God’s people with the Spirit of God, young and old, free and slave, man and woman and that the purpose of this fulfillment was to call people to turn to Christ as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

At the top of your bulletin insert there is an outline from Ray Pritchard covering what the Bible teaches about the filling of the Holy Spirit.
“What Moses wished for (Numbers 11),
What Joel predicted (Joel 2:28-29),
What Peter explained (Acts 2:16-20),
Is now available to every believer (Acts 2:21).”
I might also add that this filling of the Spirit will reach it zenith when Christ comes to set up His kingdom on this earth.

It is important that we recognize that these people, although God’s people, were simply people. Peter continued to have problems with prejudice and cowardice despite experiencing the filling with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit enables you to minister effectively but it does not take you permanently to a higher spiritual plane that insulates you from sinful and selfish behavior.

Being filled with the Spirit also did not hinder Paul and Barnabas from disagreeing with one another so vehemently that they parted ways because of a difference of opinion. People wonder how it is that people who appear to be filled with the Spirit can strongly disagree with one another. It is as if they assume that being filled with the Spirit removes all hints of my own personality from my actions, opinions, and decision making. That is just not so. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 14, “The spirit of a prophet is subject to that prophet.” So being filled with the Spirit does not make me a mindless automaton incapable of controlling my own actions but rather it takes my being and empowers me, enables me, emboldens me to do consciously as God would have me to do.

C. The filling with the Holy Spirit is through Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-36). As I mentioned earlier, this is the point of Peter’s sermon. The key to being filled with the Spirit of God is faith in Christ.

1. Our witness of Christ is the reason for the filling (2:32-33). This is easily overlooked but is clearly stated in these verses. We have already seen how that in this case, the ability to prophesy or to speak in tongues was the immediate method God used to testify of the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). God has not always used these methods and in fact, I believe, does not use these methods anymore because they are no longer needed. We have the completed written Word of God. The significance, however, is not in the method God chooses to use but rather in the message that He is revealing to men and women through our witness.

We have also seen that this boldness to witness is really the primary earmark in Acts of someone who is filled with the Spirit. You see, the Spirit’s main concern is that people know Christ. If your main concern is for people to know Christ, if you have a passion for presenting Christ to a world on its way to hell, then it is likely that you as a believer are while presenting Christ filled with the Spirit. The filling with the Spirit is not identified by passionate feelings but by Spirit-enabled actions of witnessing of Christ and bringing others to discipleship of Christ.

After almost forty years in the faith, I find it relatively easy to determine when I am filled with the Spirit because during those times when I am filled with the Spirit there is great boldness to speak the gospel of Christ. When I am more concerned about what others think of my witness than of being Christ’s witness, I am not filled with the Spirit. I want to be a pastor who is filled with the Spirit. I want to be a father and husband who is filled with the Spirit. I want my wife and my children to be filled with the Spirit. I want this church to be filled with the Spirit. I want us to be bold in our witness for Christ.

2. Not only is Jesus the reason for the filling but He is also the provider of this filling with the Holy Spirit. He receives for us from the Father what we cannot obtain for ourselves (2:33).

“…the Spirit on the day of Pentecost came to these people in answer to the prayer of Jesus, not in answer to their praying…but entirely and absolutely in answer to the request…of Christ Himself (G. Campbell Morgan)” (see John 14:16). This waiting was evidence of their faith and trust in the promise of the Father and the prayer of Christ.

The believer can receive directly from the Father through Christ just as Christ Himself has received from the Father (John 14:12-14). This is why we pray. Jesus Christ has taken the place of authority by sitting on the right hand of His Father. When I pray to the Father, based on my faith in Christ, Christ is saying that the Father will answer my prayers in the same way that He gave to Jesus. The reason He does this, though, is because of Jesus Christ and not because of anything which I may bring before the throne of God. I cannot do anything in my prayers that will guarantee that they are answered. You see, Jesus is my access to the Father. He is the guarantee to answered prayer. That is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name.

Now I typically end my prayers with some variation of “in Jesus’ name.” That phrase though is not what guarantees that God answers my prayers. Prayer is not about phraseology. It is about access. I have access to God not because of the way I pray but because I trust for my salvation, Jesus Christ. So it is appropriate to pray for the filling of the Spirit but remember it is because of Christ and not because of you that the filling comes.

Are you filled with the Spirit? If you are, it is because of Jesus Christ and it will be evident to the world because you will have power to tell others about Jesus Christ and your faith in Him.

This, however, cannot be forced. LeRoy Eims tells in his book “The Lost Art of Disciple Making” of being “…asked to develop a summer training program for some high school and college students…” He writes, “During the course, my associates and I kept them on a daily schedule of tough spiritual discipline. We demanded they have a quiet time. We required them to memorize a certain number of Bible verses each day. We forced them to do a daily Bible study. We jammed it down their throats. It was mind over matter; we didn’t mind and they didn’t matter. The whole thing had the air of a Marine Corps boot camp. After the program was over, many of the young people left the camp disillusioned with these things. We had not yet learned that faithfulness and consistency (and I might add, power through the filling with the Holy Spirit) are the result of the promptings of the Holy Spirit within, not human efforts from outside.”

That does not mean that there is nothing we can do though. In Acts 2:42 we find out what the disciples did that allowed the early church to be consistently filled with the Holy Spirit. These were not new things but simply extensions of what the original disciples were already practicing before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (See Acts 1).

1. They learned and obeyed God’s word together (doctrine).
2. They partnered with one another (fellowship) by meeting together for communion and prayer.

We can learn from this pattern. Some of you need to start going to Sunday School and Bible studies so that you can learn the Word of God and be filled with the knowledge of Christ. Others of you need to partner, fellowship, with other believers, in some cases, with this church, with the body of Christ. Your communion with Christ needs to be communion with His body. Some of you need to start praying with us on Wednesday night or if you cannot do that then begin praying with other believers in Christ. These are simple things that we all can do that will help us in our devotion to Christ and will make us available to be filled with the Spirit. Will you do them?

Next Week: Resisting the Holy Spirit

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