“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” (from Acts 2:4)
We have been talking about an apparent dearth of power in our churches – looking at the early church to see what they had that we may lack.
Today, we look at what is most obvious.
There is no doubt that when it comes to the empowering of the early Church, the main thing we are talking about is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, God sent what He had been promising – and the Church was forever changed. God granted them the power to “be His witnesses…”
But do we really understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit? If there is one area of greatest controversy, in today’s churches, it is centered in the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. What do we make of Him? What is His purpose? Is He still at work today? Are we operating under the same promise that God gave the early Church?
Today and tomorrow I want to take the time to consider the Scriptural truth about the Holy Spirit and His ability to empower God’s people…
One of the reasons why our churches lack power is because many churches have “downplayed” the role of the Holy Spirit. Some have even ignored Him altogether – declaring that He is nothing more than an aura (or a force) that is no longer essential to Christian faith.
But the words of Jesus must provide our foundation… “He ordered (His disciples) not to depart Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father… (for) you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…” (from Acts 1:4-5) And in Luke’s account, the Master commanded that the disciples “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk. 24:49)
What is obvious is that the empowerment of God’s people comes with the Holy Spirit. What is not so obvious is that Jesus is telling His disciples that training in ministry is not enough. Walking around with Him is not enough. Education (hearing Jesus’ teaching) is not enough. Moral integrity is not enough. Religious traditions and practices… are not enough. Even ministry opportunities… are NOT enough.
To accomplish the work that needed to be done would require one thing only – and that one thing was a Person. Jesus was saying: “Don’t even think about beginning your ministry until you are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Stay… wait… He is coming… the Father promised!”
God’s work can only be done… by God! We forget that sometimes. We think that our programs and our services can do the work of God. They can certainly help, they can provide opportunities for God to work. But the work of God can only be done by God Himself.
And the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to empower us with… Himself. The Holy Spirit is given to be “God within us” to do the work that God wants to do… through our yielded lives.
There is no substitute for the Holy Spirit. There is no plan B. God’s plan, all along, has been for God Almighty to inhabit His people and work through them. This is the work of the Holy Spirit – and ONLY the work of the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the hard truth: When we are talking about a lack of power in our churches we are really talking about a lack of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.
Tomorrow we will look into why this is the case…
Prayer Focus: God, I seek the infilling of Your Holy Spirit. I cannot do Your work without Him. Fill me. Use me. To glorify Your Name!