Reasons to be Spirit-filled
Key Principle #3: SPIRIT-FILLED (part 1)
Ask yourself a painful question…is your church spirit-filled? Want an even more painful question; are you Spirit-filled? I say it is a painful question because it is to me and many of the churches I’ve seen. You may answer that and say, yes, I am spirit-filled and so is my church. What does that mean to you?
This is what it meant to the early church and what it should mean to us today. A spirit-filled church is a power-filled church and it is a witness-filled church. A spirit-filled Christian is a power-filled Christian and a witness-filled Christian. It comes as a result of waiting on the Promise of the Father, being obedient to Christ and being saved and baptized by the Holy Spirit.
Reasons to be Spirit-filled
I’ve always had a difficult time visualizing this scene. I’ve seen it dramatically depicted in movies, but still, most difficult is how did a divided tongue of fire appear and how did it rest on people. Have you ever wondered why a tongue?
Why not an ear? Suppose God decided that the way to demonstrate the infilling of the Holy Spirit was to have ears of fire rest on each person and then people could hear and understand other languages or even hear the utterances of God. Or suppose God wanted to manifest His infilling Holy Spirit with an eye of fire appearing on the people, allowing them to see visions of heaven, of the future, of distant lands. I think the answer of why He chose a tongue is as obvious as the nose on your face (and I think we can all imagine why God did not choose a “nose of fire” to appear, but still He’s God and he could have). He chose a tongue so as to show that we must go and tell others of the wonderful works of God, and especially how great is His salvation.
In Genesis chapter 11, God divided the tongues of people to scatter them abroad (11:8-9). When the people had one language and one speech, they sought to make a tower to heaven, a pagan tower to exalt themselves and to make a name for themselves. They wanted to keep from being scattered and filling the earth, which was God’s first commandment to humanity (Gen. 1:28) and repeated again to Noah and his family (Gen. 9:1, 7).
The divided tongue brought confusion and God is the one who divided the tongues and languages. Wait! Did God author confusion? Did that contradict 1 Cor. 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” No, humanity rejected God’s commandments and thus was the cause of God coming in judgment to accomplish His will of filling the earth. In Acts, the multitudes were confused, not because they didn’t understand but because they did understand, in their own language the wonderful works of God.
This particular type of infilling was a unique, never before occurring and never to be again repeated (at least not so far in human history) event. Pentecostal brothers and sisters and other charismatic believers may indeed practice speaking in tongues, but nothing like this. If it occurs at your church, please contact me because as I mentioned I have a hard time visualizing this. People understood not only in their language, but in their dialects.
Pentecost came seven weeks after Passover. Passover was the first Jewish celebration of the year, marking the deliverance of the children of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt (see Lev. 23:4). And of course, Passover was also the time in which Jesus died.
Seven is a holy number and seven weeks of seven days is especially holy. Sometimes Pentecost is called the Feast of Weeks, which is a celebration of the harvest of grain (Lev. 23:16). Each celebration of the Jews foreshadows different events to be fulfilled in the church, and Pentecost celebrates the first grain harvest for the Jews, but for the church, it celebrates the first harvest of souls with the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that the indwelling is permanent, but the infilling is not permanent. Christians must continually and repeatedly seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and not being filled is usually a result of not being obedient to God. An infilling of the Spirit almost always accompanies a boldness to share the Word of God (see Acts 4:8, 31; 6:5 with 7:55; 5:18-19).