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A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

July 27, 2015

fsac.1a34277      John Vachon    1942 or 1943       Church near Junction City, Kansas

A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

 I. The Problem

II. The Pattern

A. Example of a Spirit Filled Church in Acts
B. Example of a Spirit Filled Church in Ephesians
C. Example of Jesus

III. The Potential of a Spirit Filled Church

IV. The Prayer for a Spirit Filled Church
V. Summary of Characteristics of a Spirit Filled Church

I. THE PROBLEM OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

It was the middle of winter and the electricity had been knocked out by an ice storm. As we listened to our battery-powered radio the announcer said, “The following churches will be closed due to lack of power.” What a provocative statement! What would the announcer say about many American churches today? They probably wouldn’t be closed for lack of activity, but lack of power is another matter!

Francis Chan – God put His Spirit in us so we could be known for our power. Sadly, most believers and churches are known for talent and intellect rather than supernatural power. What’s worse is that we’re okay with it…. I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can.” (Forgotten God – Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit)

David Platt in his book Radical has a chapter entitled “Beginning at the End of Ourselves — The Importance of Relying on God’s Power (Subsection entitled – “Dependent on Ourselves or Desperate for His Spirit”) – This is where I am most convicted as a pastor…I am part of a system that has created a whole host of means and methods, plans and strategies for doing church that require little if any power from God….I am frightened by the reality that the church I lead can carry on most of our activities….never realizing that the Holy Spirit of God is virtually absent from the picture.” (Radical- Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream)

Vance Havner – We are seeing much today of service without the Spirit. There is an appalling ignorance of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in our great church bodies. It is not what is done for God that counts, but rather what is done by Him, the work of His Spirit through our yielded wills. Programs, propaganda, pep, personnel, these are not enough. There must be power. God’s work must be done by God’s people God’s way. The Quakers got their name from the fact that they trembled under the power of the Spirit. At least their faith shook them! Too many of us today are shaky about what we believe but not shaken by what we believe! Too many people assemble at God’s house who don’t really believe in the power of God. Having begun in the Spirit, we live in the flesh (Gal 3:3)….Never has the church had more wire stretched with less power in it. All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down (cp Zech 4:6). Sad to say, we seem not even to know that we have not the Spirit in power. If He ceased His work many church members would never know the difference. Like Samson, we don’t realize that He has departed (Jdg 16:19, 20, 21), but we keep “shaking ourselves” in the prescribed calisthenics.

A.W. Tozer
some 50 years ago made a similar pronouncement “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the NT church (in Acts), 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

SO HERE IS THE QUESTION… Which 95% would you want your church to be? Mostly natural or mostly supernatural? A humanly energized group of people or a Spirit filled and empowered Church? The popular spiritual song This is the Air I Breathe aptly summarizes what every believer’s daily cry should be…

Your Holy Presence living in me
This is my Daily Bread
Your very Word spoken to me
And I, I’m Desperate for You
And I, I’m lost without You!

Ray Pritchard (Sermons – Keep Believing Ministries) said that the modern church’s “greatest need is for spiritual power” explaining that actually “our greatest need is to know how great our need really is….(and that need) is to know the Spirit deeply and personally. It is never enough to possess the truth. The truth must eventually possess us in order to change us….I remember some years ago hearing Dr. J. Vernon McGee preach a commencement address at Dallas Theological Seminary. He was then in his early 80s and near the end of a long and fruitful ministry.  I’ve forgotten almost everything else he said that night, but one comment has stayed with me. He said that if he were starting his ministry over again, he would give much more attention to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.  He would preach on the Spirit more frequently and attempt to lead people to depend on his power every day.” (How Can I Be Filled With the Holy Spirit?)

And so this overview on the Spirit Filled Church hopefully will transmit some information, but it will be for naught if it does not bring about Spirit wrought transformation for that is the desperate need of the body of Christ in these last days! The preacher and teacher can (and should) preach and teach the Word of Truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart and implant that Word into the fertile soil of our hearts!

CAVEAT/DISCLAIMER – The mere mention of the Holy Spirit may send shivers down your spine! Questionable practices and emotional extremes in the Name of the Spirit by some have caused many believers to shy away from the Holy Spirit and to become coolly intellectual – espousing orthodoxy but without true orthopraxy! In so doing these orthodox saints have essentially neglected the vital, necessary role of the Spirit in a Spirit filled church. The enemy is undoubtedly quite pleased that many in the Body of Christ are firmly entrenched in one of these two polarized camps — either fully fanatical or insipidly intellectual!  I believe the Scripturally defined “middle ground” is where God wants His Church and the goal of this message is to outline the Scriptural pattern for a Spirit filled church.

A C Dixon – When we rely on organization, we get what organization can do. When we rely upon education, we get what education can do. When we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. But when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we get what God can do.

II. THE PATTERN OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

Let’s drop the plumb line of God’s Word to determine the truth about the Spirit Filled Church (and we are just scratching the surface). Any ministry that exalts the Spirit at the expense of exaltation of Jesus Christ is clearly in error for our Lord Himself stated that the Holy Spirit “shall glorify (doxazo =  give a correct opinion or correct estimate of Jesus) Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.” (John 16:14). Jesus explained that “When the Helper (parakletos = the Holy Spirit) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will testify (martureo = bear witness of the truth) about Me (Not primarily about Himself).” (Jn 15:26) The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks “What is the chief end of man?” and answers “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.” The chief end of the Spirit of Christ Who indwells every believer (Ro 8:9note, Ro 5:5note) is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through us, not to glorify Himself!


(From Jensen’s Survey of the New Testament- excellent resource)

A. EXAMPLE OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH IN ACTS

So let’s begin with the “birthday” of the Christian church in Acts 2.

Acts 2:1 “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled (pleroo) the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled (pimplemi – see Greek word study) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”  (Thayer wrote “what wholly takes possession of the mind is said to fill it.”)

From the diagram we see the church as a body of Christ (Eph 4:12note) was  born when the Spirit came on the believers and all were filled. Notice that “all” were filled and all began to speak as the Spirit was giving them utterance. As Ray Pritchard says “The filling of the Spirit is not primarily an emotional experience, and it’s certainly not reserved for a few super-Christians. It’s nothing more than the normal Christian life when the Holy Spirit is in control.” (Ibid) As discussed more below being filled pictures these believers as controlled by the Spirit. We see this meaning of filling in other passages where we observe that what fills a person controls them. And so the Jewish “were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus (notice that filling often energizes action!).” (Lk 6:11, cp Lk 4:28, 29). Jesus was gone but (as discussed below) He had fulfilled His promise to the disciples to send the Spirit Who would be His representative and their (and our) empowering Agent. Remember that…

Bethlehem was God with us.
Calvary was God for us.
Pentecost is God in us.

So let’s look at the effect the Spirit exerted on the early church, keeping in mind that these Scriptures provide a pattern for the Spirit filled church in our day…

Acts 4:1-4 (context = persecution) And as they (Peter and John) were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple [guard,] and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed ( because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand (cp 3000 souls saved in Acts 2:41)….

Acts 4:18 And when they had summoned them (Peter and John), they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Why couldn’t they stop speaking? Because they were filled with the Spirit, the One Who is to bear witness of Jesus [Jn 15:26]! And how did the church respond to the persecution and subsequent release? They held a prayer and praise service!)….

Acts 4:24 “ And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord” (Don’t miss this picture — the Spirit filled church is a unified church. The word Luke uses here is homothumadon or homothymadon which means of same temperament and helps us understand the Spirit wrought unity of the first Church)….

Acts 4:29 “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence (boldnessparrhesia), 30 while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (the fact that this is repeated shows that Acts 2:4 filling was not permanent, one time event), and began to speak the word of God with boldness (parrhesia) (affects speech). 32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul (creates unity); and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them (stimulates generosity). 33 And with great (megas) power (dunamis) (Note not just power but great power! God’s answer recalls Eph 3:20note where Paul writes that God “is able [see God is Able] to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power [dunamis] [What power? Not an impersonal power, but power provided by a Divine Person, the Holy Spirit!] that works [energeo in present tense = continually “energizes”] within us!” Do we really believe this?) the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (fulfillment of Acts 1:8note), and abundant grace (charis) was upon them all.

There it is – a Spirit filled church! Let’s summarize what we observed about a Spirit filled body of believers:

(1) They will experience persecution

(2) They will pray together

(3) They will be filled with the Spirit

(4) They will be filled with holy boldness (parrhesia),

(5) They will be unified in heart and soul,

(6) They will be generous

(7) They will experience His power (dunamis) to proclaim the Gospel (euaggelion)

(8) They will experience abundant grace (charis).

Before Pentecost, the disciples were like rabbits. After Pentecost, they were like ferrets! Indeed “Peter the denier” (Jesus = Mt 26:34, Peter’s 3 denials = [1] Mt 26:69-70, [2] Mt 26:71-72, [3] Mt 26:73-74) empowered and emboldened by the Spirit was supernaturally transformed into “Peter the Proclaimer!” (Acts 2:4,Acts 2:14, 36-38, Acts 4:8 = “Peter filled with the Holy Spirit”). Before Pentecost the disciples found it hard to do easy things; after Pentecost they found it easy to do hard things. Pentecost was a once in a lifetime occurrence, that “changed everything.” And remember that if Pentecost was never repeated, neither is it retracted. In other words, despite the passage of 2000 years, we are still in the era of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit filled church! The potential is there for every church to be empowered by the Spirit to glorify the Name of Jesus (cp Jn 16:14)!

Other Acts passages related to the Spirit filled church…

STEPHENActs 6:3 “But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task….5 Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…7 And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. 8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people….Acts 7:55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he (Stephen) gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…60 And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And having said this, he fell asleep.

Comment: These passages reveal a number of interesting results or effects of Spirit-filling. For example notice that Acts 6 mentions men full of the Spirit and then describes the effect — “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly” (Acts 6:7)

Spirit filled believers (like Stephen) are supernaturally empowered to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8), shining brightly even before those who are filled with hatred (Acts 7:58, 8:1 = Saul/Paul) Spirit filled believers are supernaturally enabled to forgive even those who persecute them! Finally note that being filled with the Spirit enables one to die with a peace that surpasses human understanding.

SAUL/PAULActs 9:17 (Three days after Saul/Paul’s conversion-cp Acts 9:1-16) And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.…20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”…22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this [Jesus] is the Christ.

BARNABASActs 11:22-24 And the news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he had come and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.

Comment: Spirit filled believers like Barnabas encourage the church to “to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart.” And notice the impact – 

PAULActs 13:9-10 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze upon him, and said, “You who are full (what a dramatic contrast full of the Spirit vs full of deceit!) of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?”

Comment: Spirit filled believers are armed with the Spirit’s power for spiritual warfare (cp the filling in Eph 5:18 which is necessary to carry out the commands in Eph 6:10-17. Because these verses are so far apart and are even separated by a chapter break, many expositors miss the fact that we are just as dependent on the Spirit to fight our invisible foe as we are to sing to one another!)

Acts 13:52 And the disciples were continually filled (pleroo in the imperfect tense = over and over filled) with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (cp “joy of the Holy Spirit” = 1Thes 1:6note) Acts 14:1 And it came about that in Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner (Spirit empowered) that a great multitude believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. 2 But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles, and embittered them against the brethren. 3 Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly (enabled by the Spirit) with reliance upon the Lord, Who was bearing witness to the Word of His grace (“The Gospel,” cp Jn 15:26), granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.

Norman Brown summarizes – From these passages, it is clear that the results of filling vary with individuals and circumstances. But apart from special manifestations, there are always certain results: (1) the experience is Christ-centered, not Spirit-centered (cf. John 16:14); (2) the Spirit will reproduce—not imitate Christ in the believer (Gal. 4:19); and (3) the Spirit will impart His own spiritual power (cf. Acts 1:8note). In connection with these results, it is important to note that tongues is not a universal evidence of the filling of the Spirit. Many times in the book of Acts, Christians are described as being filled with the Spirit without any textual mention of tongues as being its manifestation (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:5;9:17; 13:9). To argue for the necessity of tongues in relation to filling—in spite of these silent passages—is to break basic rules of hermeneutics…..The sum of the teaching of the passages in Acts seems to be that the Spirit-filled life is the normal condition of the believer. Spirit-filling is intended for all Christians as a part of the will and purpose of God for their lives. The evidence in Acts suggests that the filling with the Spirit is both an act and a process; both an event and a life….In order to be filled, the Christian must meet the scriptural conditions of yieldedness. Accordingly, Ironside states, “We cannot be filled by deciding to claim it by faith. Neither are we filled by praying for it (Ed: But we can pray to know the “surpassing greatness of His power” Eph 1:18,19note and to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” Eph 3:16note) … We are only filled with the Spirit as we yield ourselves to God and walk in obedience to His Word…..When the Christian meets the conditions for being filled, the Holy Spirit, like an overwhelming force, immediately occupies as much of that person as is relinquished to Him. While the former sin nature is still present, it has been reckoned dead, and the new nature—energized by the Spirit—is capable of producing the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22, 23note).  (The Filling Of The Holy Spirit In The Book Of Acts)

What is a Spirit filled church? A Spirit filled church was the normal experience for the church in Acts and is to be the expected experience of every church of every age!  And so in simple terms a Spirit filled church is composed of Spirit filled believers, irrespective of their position in the church or their degree of maturity. Every believer has received the Holy Spirit at the moment of regeneration, for as Paul explained “you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Ro 8:9note, cp 1Cor 6:19note) So the moment we were born again by the Spirit, the Spirit comes in as resident, but when we allow (yield, surrender to) Him to fill (control) us He becomes “president” so to speak! In other words, the Spirit comes not just to residein us, but to preside over us! As Wayne Detzler says “The Christian church can only adequately fulfill its function in the world when every member knows this Spirit fulness.”

God has sovereignly made His provision available. Our responsibility is to make His place available. Are you willing to allow Him to preside and to guide your life? Your answer determines whether you will experience His filling or not! And remember, Scripture teaches that when we believed we received all of the Spirit we will ever possess. The question now is how much of each of us will He possess (fill, control) each day?

It is one thing for you to have the Holy Spirit.
It is another thing for the Holy Spirit to have you!

B. EXAMPLE OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH IN EPHESIANS

Let’s look at Paul’s command to be a Spirit filled church, noting that the verb filled is plural which indicates this command is for the entire church…

Ephesians 5:15note Therefore be careful (present imperative = command calling for this to be their lifestyle – something only possible as we yield to the Spirit) how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16-note making the most of (exagorazo in  present tense = continuously redeeming) the time (kairos), (why?) because the days are evil (poneros). 17-note So then do not be foolish, but understand(suniemi in the present imperative) what the will of the Lord is. 18-note And do not get drunk(methusko) with wine, for that is dissipation (asotia), but be filled with the Spirit, 19-note speaking (present tense) to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing (present tense) and making melody (present tense) with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks (present tense) for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject (present tense) to one another in the fear of Christ.

Comment: Be filled in Eph 5:18 is not a suggestion, but a command (it is every believer’s responsibility) in the present tense calling for Spirit filling to be our habitual practice, our lifestyle so to speak. It follows that no believer understands (or is in) the will of God who is not filled with His Spirit (Eph 5:17note) The present tense also underscores the fact that filling is not a one time event but is a repeated action. The implication is that each morning we need to wake up with a sense of our desperate need for Spirit to fill us. The passive voice indicates this filling is not something we do, but something we allow the Spirit to do in us. Our part is to acknowledge our need and willingly surrender our will to the Spirit.  I would add that given that the Spirit is Holy, we also need to “keep short accounts” and continually confess our sins when He brings them to our mind (1Jn 1:9note whereconfess = present tense = as our lifestyle, our habitual practice). Finally, the verb be filled is in the plural which indicates this command applies to the entire church (as we say in Texas it applies to “Y’all”). Every church (and every member) is to be a Spirit filled church. To not be Spirit filled is to disobey God’s command, which of course is a sin!

Charles Swindoll – I don’t know of a more important verse in the New Testament for the Christian than Ephesians 5:18—honest, no exaggeration. This verse tells the believer how to live an authentic, empowered life.

Ray Pritchard describes how we are to be filled with the Spirit — “We need two things—emptinessand openness.  You can’t fill a jar that’s already full, and you can’t fill a jar that is not open. There must be a sense of need—“Lord, I’m empty and I need to be filled by your Spirit.”  There must be a willingness—“Lord, I’m open to you.  Let your Spirit fill me now.” The filling of the Spirit is really as simple as that. As long as we are conscious of our need and as long as we are willing to yield to the Lord, we can be filled with the Lord because His power is available to us all day long.” Pritchard has coined the term “fillability” to describe our need and desire adding that “when your need to be filled with the Spirit becomes your great desire, you will be filled. Over and over again. Instantly. Every time.” (Ibid)

Let’s summarize what a Spirit filled church looks like according to Ephesians 5:15-21

(1) The members are continually speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. As an aside, this “fruit of filling” enables one to discern whether he is filled with the Spirit, for out of the mouth comes that which fills our heart (cp Mt 12:34). When the Spirit fills (controls) our heart, wholesome speech proceeds from our mouth. On the other hand, when unwholesome speech proceeds from our mouth (Eph 4:29note), we can  be know that we have grieved the Spirit (Eph 4:30note) and at that moment are not controlled by Him, but by our sinful flesh! How were your words today? If unwholesome, then confess them to the Lord, so that you do not continue to grieve the Spirit.

As an aside, there are some commentaries that combine speaking and singing (#2) as one effect, but in the Greek sentence these are separate and distinct participle verbs. Furthermore, when one compares the parallel passage in Col 3:16note speaking in Eph 5:19 parallels “teaching and admonishing“, which is is distinct from singing.

(2) The members of the body continually sing and make melody with their hearts to the Lord. He is to be our audience to Whom we seek to please as we sing, not others in the body.

(3) The members are always giving thanks for all things. Notice the two key adjectives – always andall things! A continual “attitude of gratitude” even in the face of trials and/or afflictions is a strong indicator of Spirit filling, for such a genuine response is not natural but supernatural! Notice also that since gratitude is the antithesis of grumbling, the latter response is a sure sign of control by the unholy flesh rather than the Holy Spirit. In Phil 2:14note we are commanded not to grumble, but the only way this is possible is to work out our salvation in fear and trembling in daily dependence on God at work in us giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases God (see Phil 2:12note, Phil 2:13NLTnote where “God Who is at work in you” = the Holy Spirit!)  Did you grumble today? Are you still grumbling and grieving the Spirit (Eph 4:30note)? Then run to 1Jn 1:9note and Pr 28:13note! Remember that “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)

(4) They are continually willing to submit themselves to each another in the fear of Christ. When we surrender to the Spirit, He will enable us to willingly surrender our right to be in control in every situation. Spirit wrought mutual submission in the body of Christ will be manifest by a Phil 2:3-4note mindset (Doing “nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind” regarding “one another as more important than” ourselves, not looking “out for [our] own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”). In short, such submission to one another is not natural but supernatural as the Spirit empowers each member of the body to have an attitude of humility and selflessness.

(5) Notice also that in the context of Eph 5:15-17 being Spirit filled enables the members of the church to continually….

(a) Walk wisely.

(b) Redeem the opportunities God provides. (See related discussion Redeem the Time)

(c) Understand God’s will. (See related discussion – The Will of God).

Comment: Note that each of the preceding verbs is plural which means Paul is addressing the entire church. In addition each verb is in the present tense which calls for these attitudes and actions to be our lifestyle, clearly something we can accomplish only supernaturally as the Spirit enables us!

Note also that the effects of Spirit filling do not cease in Ephesians 5:21, but successively impact ourmarriages (Eph 5:22-31note), our children (Eph 6:1-4note), our workplace (Eph 6:5-9note), ourwarfare (Eph 6:10-17note), our prayer life (Eph 6:18note) and our power be a bold witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph 6:19-20note). Too many believers forget that in every area of our life, we are continually in desperate need of the power of the Spirit, Who alone enables us to live as more than conquerors in Christ!

Relationship of being filled with the Spirit and “filled” with the Word…

Colossians 3:16note Let the word of Christ richly dwell (present imperative = command to the entire church [verb is plural] calling for this to be their lifestyle = only possible as we individually yield to the Spirit giving us the desire and the power) within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

RELATIONSHIP OF BEING FILLED…
WITH THE SPIRIT AND WITH THE WORD
THE HOLY
SPIRIT
THE HOLY
WORD
Ephesians 5:18, 19, 20 Colossians 3:16, 17
Be filled with
(
present imperative
)
Let…dwell within
(present imperative)
The Spirit
(of Christ)
The Word
Of Christ
Speaking to
One Another
Teaching and Admonishing
One Another
In Psalms and Hymns and
Spiritual Songs
With Psalms and Hymns and
Spiritual Songs
Singing and making melody
with your heart
to the Lord
Singing with thankfulness
in your hearts
to God
Always giving thanks Giving Thanks

Click more in depth chart comparison  between Eph 5:18-6:9 and Col 3:16-4:1

In summary, being filled with the Word is intimately related to being filled with the Spirit. The corollary conclusion is if you are not daily eating the Word or meditating on the Words you have memorized, you are not likely to be filled with and controlled by the Spirit. (cp John 6:63 where Jesus links the Spirit and the Word). Are you eating (e.g., inductive Bible study) and “chewing the cud” of (meditating on)the Word of Life daily? Spiritual health like physical health depends on adequate intake of good nutrition (cp Jesus’ words in Mt 4:4, Job 23:12note)! See discussion on the inestimable (and even eternal – see1Ti 4:8note) value of Memorizing God’s Word. See online memory verse tool to aid your daily intake of the “bread of life” – Memory Verses by Topic.

Charles Spurgeon once said that a Christian’s blood should be “bibline,” bleeding Scripture wherever he or she is pricked or cut (speaking figuratively of course)!

C. EXAMPLE OF JESUS

Let’s test the hypothesis of filled with the Spirit and filled the Word by observing the example of Jesus. Remember that He emptied Himself when He became flesh (Phil 2:6-7note) and one reason was that He would then give His disciples the example of how a godly man can live in this fallen world. In light of that truth, it is not surprising that believers are repeatedly instructed (even commanded) to follow Jesus (“Be[present imperative = continually] imitators…of Christ” = 1Cor 11:1, “be imitators…walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us” = Eph 5:1-2note; Christ left “an example for you to follow in His steps” = 1Pe 2:21note, “walk [conduct yourselves] in the same manner as He Himself walked” 1John 2:6note, ).

Luke 4:1-4 And Jesus full of (pleres) the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan (where the Spirit descended on Him = Mt 3:16-17, Mk 1:10-11, Lk 3:21-22, Jn 1:32) and was led about by the Spirit (Mt 4:1 – demonstrating His willingness to submit to the Spirit; cp Mk 1:12 = “impelled Him”!) in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted (peirazo in present tense = continually tempted) by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days; and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE (Matthew adds “BUT ON EVERY WORD [rhema = spoken word] THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” = Mt 4:4, quoting Dt 8:3).’

Comment: If the Lord of glory was willing to submit to the Spirit for guidance, how can we not do likewise! (cp Gal 5:18note, Gal 5:25NLTnote).

Luke 4:14-15 And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power (dunamis) of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.

Comment: If Jesus’ taught filled with and empowered by the Spirit, how can any teacher not be desperate to emulate His example, lest their teaching be wood, hay and stubble?

Peter summarizes Jesus’ 3 year ministry in Acts 10:37-38 – “You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed (chrio) Him with the Holy Spirit (cp Lk 4:18, Isa 61:1-2,Isaiah 42:1, 59:21, Isa 11:2note) and with power (dunamis), and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.”

Comment – Jesus was anointed for ministry with the Spirit and power. His disciples have also been anointed for Paul says “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed  (chrio) us is God.” (2Cor 1:21). John referring almost certainly to the Holy Spirit’s anointing of all believers, adds that we “have an anointing (chrisma) from the Holy One” (1Jn 2:20note) and this “anointing(chrisma) which you received from Him abides (or dwells = meno in present tense = continually) in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you (John is not saying we don’t need teachers at all – see note); but as His anointing (chrisma) teaches you about all things.” (1Jn 2:27note)

Two important observations:

(1) Jesus defeated temptation filled with Spirit and filled with the Word the “sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17note). By His victorious example, Jesus has shown us the secret for triumph in times of temptation—the Word and the Spirit (cp Ro 8:13note)!

(2) Jesus carried out His powerful ministry in dependence on the Holy Spirit and His power(dunamis). How are we carrying out the ministry God has given us — with the arm of flesh (2Chr 32:8) or the strong arm of the Lord (Ps 89:13, Isa 62:8)?

Comment – Without supernatural power, we can do absolutely nothing of eternal significance (cp Jn 15:16, 15:8). As Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me (separate from the enabling power of the Spirit of Jesus) you can do (Greek = absolutely) nothing.” (Jn 15:5) Being saved is not a matter of what we do for God, but is what God does through us as we allow His Spirit to empower His ministry in and through us. Stated another way, the human spirit fails us unless the Holy Spirit fills us.

John MacArthur adds “A Christian can accomplish no more without being filled with the Holy Spirit than a glove can accomplish without being filled with a hand. Anything he manages to do is but wood, hay, and straw that amounts to nothing and will eventually be burned up (1Cor. 3:12-15). Functioning in the flesh produces absolutely nothing of spiritual value.”

Conclusion: A Spirit filled church follows Jesus’ example –

Filled with the Spirit of Truth
Filled with the Word of Truth
Filled with supernatural power

III. THE POTENTIAL OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

Let’s join the 11 tremulous disciples in the upper room the night before the Cross, the night Jesus told them that He would go away (Jn 13:33, 36, 14:2-4, 12, 28, 16:5). Last words! The last words of anyone are worth listening to especially if they are the last words of Jesus (John 13:1-16:33 = His last words before His crucifixion).

GREATER THINGS
IN THIS CITY

John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; andgreater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father (cp Jn 7:38-39note;, Jn 16:7 below).

Examples of greater works (quantitatively, not qualitatively) are seen in the number of souls gathered into the Kingdom in Acts 2:41 = 3000 and Acts 4:4 = 5000. And so most agree that far more souls were saved in the ministry of the apostles in Acts then in Jesus’ entire ministry.

In Chris Tomlin’s spiritual song God of this City there is a line that echoes Jesus’ prophetic promise that “greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city.”

Question: Do you want to be a body of Christ in your city about which it is said they “have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6KJV) for the glory of Jesus the King? I do! Then we must determine to jettison dependence on men’s methods and stay desperate for the Spirit’s power, for only by His supernatural dunamis can we expect to do “greater things…in this city“!

John 14:16-18 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another (not heteros but allos = another of the same kind!) Helper (parakletos =  one who stands by to help or render aid, to enable), that He may be with you forever.  [that is] the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, [but] you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (Post-resurrection = Jn 20:19-21, 22; Then at Pentecost when the Spirit of Jesus came to indwell them)

John 14:26 “But the Helper (parakletos), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

Jn 15:26 “When the Helper  (parakletos) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, [that is] the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness (martureo = bear witness of the truth) of Me,

John 16:7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper(parakletos) shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

John 7:37-39note Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Mt 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples (matheteuo in the aorist imperative = command conveying a sense of urgency! The only command in the “Great Commission!”) of all the nations (compare “all the nations” with Jesus’ commission in Acts 1:8 and you see our total need for the powr of the Spirit in both passages), baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always (How? The indwelling Spirit of Jesus! cp parallel “Great Commission” passage in Luke 24:46-48, 49, cp Acts 1:4,8note), even to the end of the age.”

Conclusion: The potential for the Spirit filled church is a greater harvest of souls then Jesus Himself is His 3 year ministry. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is not just in one person but in every member of the body scattered in the fields that are white for harvest (John 4:35)!

Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord!
Be all thy graces now out-poured
On the believer’s mind and soul,
To strengthen, save, and make us whole.
–Martin Luther

IV. THE PRAYER FOR A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

As we yearn to yield more to the Spirit of Christ we will encounter increased resistance from the world, ourfallen flesh and the devil, so let us pray without ceasing (1Th 5:17note, Eph 6:18note) for ourselves and for one another Paul’s prayer for the saints at the church in Ephesus (Eph 1:18-19). Notice that he is not praying for them to be filled with the Spirit per se, to receive more of the Spirit, to be baptized with the Spirit or to experience what some refer to as a second blessing. No, he is praying for the eyes of their hearts to be opened to the vistas of the great riches they already possess in Christ (cp “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” – Eph 1:3note). In short, he is praying for these saints to possess their possessions, to possess what God has already promised them and made available for them in Christ through His Spirit. How do they possess their possessions? Ultimately by faith and obedience. (See study of relationship between faith and obedience) Or as the old hymn says “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be  happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey.” As former Wheaton College president V. Raymond Edman used to say “The Spirit-filled life is no mystery revealed to a select few, no goal difficult of attainment. To trust and obey is the substance of the whole matter.” So as a body let us boldly approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16note) and pray Paul’s great prayer. What might God do with His church if we kept on asking, kept on seeking, kept on knocking (Mt 7:7note)?

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that (term of purpose or result) you will know (eido = know beyond a shadow of a doubt – an assurance only given by the Spirit to our hearts) what is the hope (elpis) of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing (huperballo = to a degree which exceeds extraordinary!) greatness of His power(dunamis) toward us who believe (pisteuo). These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (Ephesians 1:18-19note)

Comment: Hope (elpis) is not “hope so” but “hope sure!” The great doctrine of Biblical hope speaks of the saint’s absolute assurance of a future good. We can be absolutely confident that God will do good to us in the future. The writer of Hebrews describes it as “full assurance.” (Heb 6:11note). The surpassing greatness of His power in context is the same power that resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead (see context – Eph 1:19bnote and Eph 1:20-21note). One wonders if the saints at Ephesus continued to pray this prayer (and similar Pauline prayers – Eph 3:16-19note) for one another (something that is really only possible as the Spirit enables us), because in the short span of only about 30 years the church was the recipient of some painful words from Jesus – “I have this against you, that you have left (aphiemi) your first love. 5‘ Remember (mnemoneuo a present imperative = command calling for this to be their lifestyle – something only possible as we yield to the Spirit) therefore from where you have fallen, and repent (metanoeo in the aorist imperative = command conveying a sense of urgency! And dependency!) and do (poieo in the aorist imperative = command conveying a sense of urgency! And dependency!) the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.” (Rev 2:4-5note) God grant that these words never need to be spoken to your church beloved. Amen

APPLICATION:
What would (could) God do with a truly Spirit filled Church?
What clues do we see in the Spirit filled church in the book of Acts?
Would you like to be part of a Spirit filled Church?

V. SUMMARY OF CHARACTERISTICS OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are persecuted churches because the enemy knows from experience (he has read the book of Acts!) they are mighty instruments in the hands of the Almighty God. (Acts 8:1, Acts 4:29)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Have the Spirit’s power enabling them to suffer joyfully, courageously and victoriously (Acts 5:41, Stephen in Acts 7:55-58, 1Thes 1:6note).

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are praying and fasting churches, seeking God’s will, God’s guidance, God’s glory. (Acts 4:24-30, Acts 13:2-3, Acts 14:23)

John Piper on Fasting – Fasting is an exceptional measure, designed to channel and express our desire for God and our holy discontent in a fallen world. It is for those not satisfied with the status quo. For those who want more of God’s grace. For those who feel particularly desperate for God.(Sharpen Your Affections with Fasting)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Manifest a sense of unity in diversity wrought by the Spirit even in times of difficulty and persecution. (Eph 4:3-6, Acts 1:14, 2:46, 4:24, 5:12, 15:25, cp Jn 17:21-23)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES — Are generous churches (with a heart of charity) whose members are seek to meet the needs (chreia) of others in the body of Christ. (Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:34-37).

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Exhibit Spirit enabled boldness and power not to DO witnessing but to BE witnesses for Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:31, Acts 1:8)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are powerful witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 4:33,Acts 1:8)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are Scripture saturated churches (“continually devoting [proskartereo in the present tense] themselves to the apostles’ teaching [didache]”), exalting Jesus for the sake of transformation not information. (Acts 2:42)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are composed of saints who continually recognize their desperate need for the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit coupled with a deep desire (similar to Ps 42:1-2) for the Spirit’s filling. They have “fillability!” (Eph 5:18)

C H Spurgeon on Ps 42:2 – My soul. All my nature, my inmost self. Thirsteth. Which is more than hungering; hunger you can palliate, but thirst is awful, insatiable, clamorous, deadly. O to have the most intense craving after the highest good! this is no questionable mark of grace. For God. Not merely for the temple and the ordinances, but for fellowship with God himself. None but spiritual men can sympathize with this thirst. For the living God. Because he lives, and gives to men the living water; therefore we, with greater eagerness, desire him.

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES –Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. (Eph 5:19)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Sing joyfully from the heart to exalt the Lord. (Eph 5:19, cp “pure heart” in Ps 24:4 As C H Spurgeon says “The soul must be delivered from delighting in the groveling toys of earth.” Psalm 24:4 Comment)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Continually express gratitude to God the Father (always, in all things) rather than grumbling and complaining. (Eph 5:20).

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Willingly submit to one another, surrendering their rights to their brothers and sisters in the fear of Christ. (Eph 5:21)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly, daily reading, actively memorized and joyfully meditating on the Scriptures. (Col 3:16)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are enabled by the Spirit to walk wisely (Eph 5:15), to redeem the time (Eph 5:16) and to understand the will of God (Eph 5:17).

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES — Are characterized Spirit filled marriages (Eph 5:22-31note), Spirit filled families (Eph 6:1-4note), Spirit filled workplaces (Eph 6:5-9note), Spirit empowered warfare (Eph 6:10-17note), Spirit initiated prayer life (Eph 6:18note) and Spirit given boldness to bear witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph 6:19-20note).

Comment: Sadly many believers do not realize that in every area of our life, we are continually in desperate need of the power of the Spirit, Who alone enables us to live life and live it abundantly in Christ and for Christ (Jn 10:10)!

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are supernaturally empowered to engage in spiritual warfare (Acts 13:9-10).

Comment – As discussed above being filled with the Spirit as commanded in Eph 5:18 is vital for waging spiritual warfare against supernatural beings as described in Eph 6:10-17! Because Eph 5:18 is so far from Eph 6:10-17 and also separated by a chapter break, many expositors miss the fact that believers are just as dependent on the Spirit to fight our invisible foes as they are to sing and make “melody with (their) heart to the Lord!” (Eph 5:19)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Follow the example of Jesus of continually being ready for temptation by being Scripture filled and Spirit filled! (Luke 4:1-4)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Experience the power of God to see souls added by the LORD for His glory not theirs. (Acts 2:47)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Attract outsiders not to come see their programs but the One the Spirit is exalting.

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Do not depend on their great resources but their great God’s unfathomable riches in Christ. (Eph 1:3, Eph 3:8, Col 2:2-3)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are not eager to make a name for themselves but to exalt and glorify the Name above all names, Jesus Christ. (Jn 16:14, Jn 15:26)

Comment: Indeed we are commanded to be the light of the world, but the switch must be turned on to allow the power of the Spirit to flow! (Mt 5:16note, Php 2:15note).

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Are radical but not fanatical, depending on God’s Spirit, not men’s programs. (Zec 4:6)

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES — Are filled with supernatural joy (Acts 5:42, Acts 13:52, , Acts 11:23, 16:34, 1Thes 1:6note).

SPIRIT FILLED CHURCHES – Bear a “bumper crop” of the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22note, Gal 5:23note)

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One Comment
  1. Great word ! Thank you.

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