Jesus knew that his disciples needed power from heaven to be effective in sharing the faith. That is why Jesus told his disciples they would be witnesses after they received special power from God. The Bible says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). Jesus told them not to leave Jerusalem or to start their ministry until they got the power. “And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” (Luke 24:49).
The fulfillment of these promises would change the disciples’ whole world. God’s powerful Holy Spirit would fall upon the disciples in overwhelming might. With this power from God, the task of personal and world evangelization would move from impossible to certain. With this power of God in your life, the task of sharing Christ with your world is a reality.
Ten days later, in that upper room, Jesus kept his promise. “When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying.And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech” (Acts 2:1-4).
These early believers were not only indwelled by the Holy Spirit at that time, but they also received an infilling of God’s power. They spoke the gospel message, and people who were there from all over the world understood in their own languages. The disciples received the Spirit and were filled with the Spirit. What happened at Pentecost has forever changed the way we can relate to the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is at Pentecost where the promise–of the indwelling and infilling of the Spirit for power in relaying the message of Christ–became available of you. This power from God is how the normal Christian life operates. That means your normal Christian life is to be a Spirit-filled life.
This Spirit-empowered life is demonstrated for us in the Bible and in history. If Jesus is to be our example for living, then He is to be our example for operating under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Everything Jesus did, He did under the leadership of the Spirit. Everything Jesus said, He said under the power of the Holy Spirit. He did not begin his public ministry until He was filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). The apostle John said we are to walk as Christ walked (1 John 2:6). If Jesus is our example, we should seek to have a close relationship with the Spirit of God.
The New Testament records the apostles repeatedly being filled with the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts relates the filling of the same believers several times, such as Peter in Acts 2:4; 4:8-10, and 4:31. The common result of this filling of the Spirit was a bold evangelistic sharing of the Word of God.
The church, when it looked for leaders, sought out those who were full of the Holy Spirit. The apostles said to them, “Therefore, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty” (Acts 6:3). Stephen, who was eventually martyred, was one of these.
The members of churches in Asia that Barnabas and Paul visited were filled with the Holy Spirit. “And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). Paul wrote in Ephesians that we would “know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19, NIV).
Not only do you have these examples of the filling power of the Holy Spirit, but Scripture says you are to be filled as well. Ephesians 5:18 says: “And don’t get drunk with wine, which ⌊leads to⌋ reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit” The single word for “be filled” in the original biblical language is pleróō.
That word is plural, meaning the filling is for all of us. It is in the present tense, meaning the Spirit is to be present in our lives now. The word is an imperative, which means that being filled by the Spirit is a command from God. It also is in the passive voice, which means the filling of the Spirit is something done to us. God is the initiator; we are the receivers. God is the one who bestows the power of His Spirit upon us.
This is something God is more than willing to do. Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).
So we have Jesus, the Son of God filled with the Holy Spirit for His ministry. We have Peter and other apostles filled with the Holy Spirit and relaying their faith in power. The church, when they were looking for leaders to carry on ministry looked for men who were already filled with the Holy Spirit. Members of the local churches were also filled with the Holy Spirit. The overwhelming conclusion that comes from these examples is that we all need the powerful infilling of the Holy Spirit in our lives for Christian living and relaying our faith.
The Bible emphatically demonstrates that you need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and that this empowerment is available to you for your Christian witness.
In the next blog entry I will cover some examples of Spirit-empowerment from the recent past.