God's truth for today's world

the fullness of the spiritToday, we are continuing our message series “Living in the Spirit.” In this series, we’re talking about how every believer can grow in their relationship with the Holy Spirit. Our message today is entitled “The Fullness of the Spirit.”

In the last couple of messages in this series, we’ve been talking about Spirit Baptism. If you missed them, I’d encourage you to watch them online on our website. Spirit baptism is the initial filling with the Spirit with the evidence of tongues.

Acts 2:4 (NIV) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Notice here that on the day of Pentecost, Spirit baptism is described as being filled with the Holy Spirit. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached that every person needed to experience three things.

Acts 2:38-39 (NIV) Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

The three things are salvation, water baptism and Spirit baptism. Spirit baptism is described in this verse as the gift of the Holy Spirit and as a promise, the promise of the Father. This promise was not just for the day of Pentecost, but for every believer of all time. Following the day of Pentecost, the New Testament writers assume that every believer is water baptized and Spirit baptized.

Today, there are estimated to be 600 million Spirit baptized believers in the world, even though most denominations don’t teach Spirit baptism. Life Church is part of the Assemblies of God, the largest fellowship in the world that is Pentecostal. The term Pentecostal today simply means that biblical Spirit baptism is taught as an essential part of the Christian life, just as Peter did in Acts 2.

I want to look at five types of Pentecostal churches, of which only one is truly biblical. The first four types are the reason that the term Pentecostal has negative connotations for some. Churches don’t actually go by these names, but the names are descriptive.

  • A Retro Pentecostal Church is a church that worships the same as churches did decades ago. The style and practices of worship have not kept up with the culture.
  • A Prosperity Pentecostal Church is a church that features it “Name it, claim it theology.” They teach that God wants every believer rich and if you’re not rich, it’s because of a lack of faith.
  • A Hyper Pentecostal Church is always looking for the latest, greatest, most entertaining thing, regardless of biblical support for the latest fad.
  • A Nominal Pentecostal Church has Pentecostal theology in their statement of beliefs, but there is little evidence of the Spirit’s work in the teaching and life of the church.
  • Finally, an Authentic Pentecostal Church is a church that has the teaching and practice of supernatural gifts and the Holy Spirit integrated into the whole body of biblical truth.

An authentic Pentecostal church has a biblical balance between the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the clear teaching of God’s Word. The goal of Life Church and every Assemblies of God church is to be an authentic Pentecostal church.

Today, we’re going to be talking about what an authentic Spirit-filled life looks like for the believer. After a believer is baptized in the Spirit, what’s different about their life?

Spirit-filled believers demonstrate godly behavior

1 Corinthians 14:1 (NIV) Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.

God is love and those who are truly Spirit-filled will demonstrate God’s love through their behavior. So, God’s Word in this verse instructs Spirit-filled believers to follow God’s way of love. And believers are to eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit. This is a command as well. If you are not eagerly desiring the gifts of the Spirit in your own life, you are in disobedience to God’s Word. Why should the gifts of the Spirit be a top priority in your life?

Spirit-filled believers use gifts for others

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (NIV) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

In the first verse in this passage, the manifestation of the Spirit, which is the gifts of the Spirit in action, is given for the common good. The gifts are given for the common good of the church family. God’s gifts are given so that you can help others with God’s supernatural help. That should be our motivation for earnestly desiring the gifts, to help others. In helping others …

Spirit-filled believers take risks

Acts 9 tells us about an everyday Spirit-filled believer named Ananias. The Lord spoke to Ananias and told him to go and pray for a man named Saul. Ananias knew who Saul was. Saul had been violently persecuting Christians, throwing some into jail and killing others. To go and pray for such a man would be risking your very life. Yet, at the Lord’s insistence, Ananias took the risk and went to visit Saul.

Acts 9:17-18 (NIV) Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,

Ananias put aside his fears and obeyed the Lord. He had the privilege of praying for Saul and seeing him Spirit baptized, healed of blindness and water baptized. Oftentimes, a Sprit-filled believer must take a risk to use the Spirit’s gifts to help others.

Application

Just because someone says they are Spirit-filled, does not mean they are. Just as someone saying they are a Christian, doesn’t mean that they are. A truly Spirit-filled believer will demonstrate godly behavior, because they are truly filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructed His disciples that the way to test whether someone was from God or not, was to inspect the fruit of their life.

Godly behavior is the fruit of a truly Spirit-filled life, whereas ungodly behavior is the fruit of life that is not Spirit-filled. Many criticisms of Spirit baptism and the gifts of the Spirit came about because people were claiming to be Spirit-filled when their behavior indicated they were not. Not only do Spirit-filled believers demonstrate godly behavior …

Spirit-filled believers develop godly attitudes

Acts 6:3 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.

That verse if from the apostles choosing seven men as deacons to serve in the church. The men chosen were both Spirit-filled and full of wisdom. So, these men had grown in and developed the godly attitude of wisdom. They were able to make godly decisions regarding the work that needed to be done in the church. In order to develop godly attitudes …

Spirit-filled believers are teachable

John 14:26 (NIV) But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

If the Holy Spirit was sent to teach us all things and to remind us of God’s Word, how can we profit from him? Only as we are teachable. What does it mean to be teachable? To be teachable means that first of all, you must recognize that you don’t know it all. This is hard for some people.

Secondly, you must recognize that some of the things you think you know, things you have believed for many years, you are wrong about. I often talk to people who think they are right about something, think that it is in the Bible, when they are wrong and their idea is not found in the Bible. A teachable person is open to learning through the Spirit new things from God’s Word and adjusting their beliefs and thinking. When you are teachable, then …

Spirit-filled believers become like Jesus

Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

We’ll talk more about the fruit of the Spirit in another message. Suffice it to say today, that the fruit of the Spirit are the character attributes of Jesus. The more fruit of the Spirit that we demonstrate in our lives, the more like Jesus we become in our attitudes. When are attitudes are in line with the Spirit, then our behavior will be as well. Spirit-filled believers live by the Spirit and have put to death fleshly desires. Spirit-filled believers keep in step with the Spirit, not running ahead or lagging behind Him.

Application

So, how are the fruit of the Spirit developed in the life of a Spirit-filled believer? Developing the fruit of the Spirit begins with a desire to grow more and more like Jesus. It continues by being teachable, willing to be taught by the Spirit through the Word and other people that God has placed in your life. Finally developing the fruit of the Spirit is nurtured by a consistent prayer life, praying in the Spirit throughout your day. Not only do Spirit-filled believers demonstrate godly behavior and develop godly attitudes, …

Spirit-filled believers are powerful witnesses

Acts 1:8 (NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This verse was a promise of Jesus to the early disciples as they gathered together to seek the baptism in the Spirit. Jesus promised that when the Spirit came on them, they would receive power to be His witnesses wherever they went. What is this power that Jesus was talking about here, that would come with Spirit baptism? The power was first of all to speak the word of God boldly at the Spirit’s direction. The power was secondly to demonstrate God’s power through the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. We see this demonstrated throughout the book of Acts. The Word is spoken boldly and confirmed with signs following in the form of the gifts of the Spirit meeting people’s needs.

Spirit-filled believers are repeatedly filled

You will recall that at the beginning of this message, I referred to Spirit baptism as the initial filling of the Spirit. This implies that there will be subsequent fillings of the Spirit. Why would Spirit-filled believers need to be repeatedly filled? The first reason is that a Spirit-filled believer can become not Spirit-filled. The Spirit can leak out of you, as a result of sin, indifference and lack of seeking God. How can you tell if your Spirit tank is going empty? The Spirit’s tank is empty if you’re not praying in tongues much or at all. You’re in trouble if you’re not regularly reading your Bible and praying. The Holy Spirit is being quenched when you don’t want to go to church. Without the Spirit, you will demonstrate more ungodly behavior and attitudes.

The second reason that a Spirit-filled believer needs to be repeatedly filled, is that as your faith grow, your Spirit tank may enlarge. You may develop the capacity to be filled to an even greater degree with the Holy Spirit. So, whatever the cause, Spirit-filled believers need to be repeatedly filled.

Acts 4:31 (NIV) After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

This verse is just a couple of chapters after the day of Pentecost. These same believers had just been filled with the Spirit, but here they are being refilled. What had happened is that the apostles had been arrested and released, being commanded not to witness for Jesus anymore. Persecution had begun and the believers need additional power of the Spirit to face this new difficulty. How were they filled with the Spirit? They prayed and asked to be filled again. The net result was that they boldly spoke God’s Word as Jesus’ witnesses, even in the face of persecution.

Ephesians 5:18 (NIV) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

The Greek verb tense for the command “be filled with the Spirit” implies a continuous filling of the Spirit. Finally …

Spirit-filled believers are led by the Spirit

Acts 8:29 (NIV) The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

Here we see an example of the Spirit speaking to and leading Philip to witness to an Ethiopian eunuch. When you read the whole story, you see an amazing divine appointment, orchestrated by the Spirit, that led to the salvation and baptism of the Ethiopian.

Romans 8:14 (NIV) For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

God’s plan is for each and every one of His children to be Spirit-filled and led by the Spirit. In order to be led by the Spirit, you must be able to hear the Spirit’s voice. The ability to hear the Spirit increases dramatically after you are baptized in the Spirit. Being led by the Spirit is of critical importance in being a powerful witness for Jesus.

Application

Now, the three characteristics we’ve talked about today of Spirit-filled believers are godly behavior, godly attitudes and powerful witnesses. These three characteristics go hand in hand. Godly attitudes lead to godly behavior which is necessary to be a powerful witness. What happens if a person tries to witness to an unbeliever, but the unbeliever is aware of serious ungodly attitudes and behavior? The unbeliever would label the believer as being a hypocrite, because their words in witnessing did not match up with their attitudes and behavior. The last attitude that a Spirit-filled believer needs to be a powerful witness is an attitude of compassion for the unbeliever. Of really caring about those whose eternal destiny is hell. That compassion both informs and motivates a powerful witness

Conclusion

So, the Spirit-filled life is not just about desiring and manifesting spiritual gifts. The Spirit-filled believer must seek to emulate Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect Spirit-filled life on this earth. Jesus followed the Spirit’s direction, ministered in the Spirit’s power and spoke God’s Word boldly. With the Spirit’s help, we can grow in doing the same.

Message Outline & Study Guide

Living in the Spirit Series

The Spirit and Tongues
The Fruit of the Spirit
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