” And it shall come to pass afterward that I shall pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions, And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28-29.
” But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD, and of justice and might, To declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin” Mic.3:8.
” And on the last day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘ If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’ . But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified ” Jn.7:37-38
” But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; And you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem ,and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”. Acts 1:8.
One may be tempted to ask, ” What does Revival have to do with Life in the Spirit?”. The above Scriptures give a resounding answer, ” Much in every way”. ” Life in the Spirit ” in this letter will be used interchangeably with the synonyms ” Fulness of the Spirit” ” filled with Spirit”, “filling” and or in- filling of the Spirit”. Life in the Spirit is purposely for a victorious and fruitful Christian life and service . Such victorious and productive life is what Jesus alluded to when He said ” I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly“. Jn.10:10.
Although this truth is clearly taught in both the Old and New testament, yet it remains elusive to many believers. In my first year of Bible College, a student expressed this ignorance. During a social discussion on campus, the issue of “Baptism of the Spirit” came up . We had students from a Pentecostal denomination. In his argument, the student in question said that in his understanding, there is nothing as ” Baptism of the Spirit” or” Filling of the Spirit” ” Once you are saved , you are a Christian” he maintained. While I differed with the Pentecostal students in their meaning of the the ” Baptism of the Spirit” I strongly disagreed with the other student in his shallow knowledge and ignorance of such important spiritual truth. I used the privilege of my working as a Library assistant and invited the student to the library and introduced him to many books on the Holy Spirit and specifically on the subject matter. The student was speechless at this eye-opening discovery. He had been a Christian for several years and even taught Bible class and Sunday school, but never at all knowing or hearing about this doctrine. He immersed himself into further personal reading and intense study of the topic. Four years later, for his graduation Research Paper ( a mini thesis), he chose the topic ” The Spirit-filled Life and the Believer.”
Each of the above Scriptures alludes that a spirit-filled life does not sit dormant. It is a productive life . It is a life that seeks to do exploits for God. In the first Revival in the New Testament, it is said of the disciples, ” And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance“. Acts 2:4. Let it quickly be clarified that their” tongue speaking” ( glossalalia) was indeed a declaration of the gospel in the different languages of the massive crowd of the Diaspora Jews who had come to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost. Yes. They spoke in tongues. But the ” tongues” (glossa) were known languages of the different countries and regions of the Roman empire where the people came from. On the day of Pentecost, the ” tongue speaking” was necessary in order for the people to hear and understand the gospel in their different languages. And that was a work of the Holy Spirit. The Scripture clearly attests to this truth. Acts 2:7-11.
The point being made is that the empowerment received from the Spirit stirred the hitherto fearful disciples into immediate and spontaneous action of declaring ” the wonderful works of God” v.11. The chief among them, the apostle Peter, who not long ago denied his Lord three times was emboldened to preach publicly the first sermon of the newly born Church. He began by quoting verbatim Joel’s prophecy mentioned above. Acts 2:17-21.
There is no account of Revival that excludes a life energized by the Spirit. There is no account of Revival that does not include a people desiring to experience a Life in the Spirit. Before the day of Pentecost, the disciples were in obedience waiting and praying for the promised enduement . ” Behold I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” Lu.24:49.; Acts 1:4-5. ” These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with His brothers” Acts 1:14.
It is so sad that there are many in the church today serving in various capacities or even praying for Revival, but like the Bible College student ignorant of what Life in the Spirit means. They are like the disciples whom Paul met in Ephesus, and when asked ” Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed”? answered, ” We have not so much heard whether there is a Holy Spirit” Acts 19:1-2. Yes, There is the Holy Spirit. And there is such a thing as a Spirit-filled life totally different from salvation experience. Those who have sought for a Life in the Spirit have found the difference it makes in their daily living and service for God. Jesus Himself said to His disciples,” But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth ” Acts 1:8.
Steps To Obtain This Blessing
I deliberately chose the word ” steps” rather than “how to” to avoid the impression of being a mechanical formula and the term blessing” rather than ” experience” lest it be seen as mere exercise. It is a blessing that one grows into as he orders his steps in keeping with the word of God.
1. Thirst for it.
To be filled with the Holy Spirit, one must desire and long for it.
The psalmist expresses the example of the longing that is meant, “ As the deer pants for the water brooks , So pants my soul for You, O God, My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God, When shall I come and appear before God?” Ps. 42:1-2. ” O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for you; My flesh longs for You. In a dry and thirsty land, Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Ps.63:1-2. How many people have this kind of longing.? The Psalmist confessed that he purposely sought for God and to experience. God’s power in his life. Jesus also invites those who thirst to come to Him and drink .Jn.7:37-39.
2. Confession Of All Known Sins
It would be ridiculous if not scandalous to seek a Life in the Spirit while holding on to known sinful habits and behavior, Life in the Spirit demands for confession and forsaking all known sins .The Psalmist made a factual statement in saying, ” If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear” Ps.66:18. A prayer offered in deliberate disregard for God’s commandment is an abomination. ” One who turns away from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. Pro.28:9. See also Pro.28:13;Isa 59:1-2.; Jas 4:8.
3. Ask For It
The Scripture puts the blame on us for any lack. ” You do not have because you do not ask ” Jas.4:2. Jesus taught that we should pray for it .” If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Lu.11:13. The undaunted apostles facing severe threats and persecutions prayed for it and God granted it. Acts 4:23-31.
4. A Surrendered Life
In his small classic, THE THREEFOLD SECRET OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, James H McConkey, explaining about the Secret of the fulness of the Holy Spirit writes,
What then is the secret of His fulness-His abundant life of peace, power and love?
The answer is complete, unqualified surrender of our life to God, to do His will instead of our own.
Thus, when we surrender our sin and believe, we receive the Holy Spirit; when we surrender our lives and believe, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The receiving of the Spirit is God’s answer to repentance and faith; the fulness of the Spirit is God’s answer to surrender and faith. At conversion the Spirit enters; at surrender the Spirit who has already entered, takes full possession. The supreme, human condition of the fulness of the Spirit is a life wholly surrendered to God to do His will.
McConkey’s clear explanation is based upon several Biblical admonition such as ” Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts .And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Rom.6:12-13. ” As you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity; even so now yield your member servants to righteousness unto holiness” Rom.6:19. “ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” Rom.12:1-2.
Since I began writing the series on Revival, I have deliberately shied away and constantly resisted the temptation to include my personal experience of Revival. But for the sake of illustration, let me share a little insight. It is on record and many older believers in Nigeria recognize that following the end of the civil war,( Nigeria/Biafra War) in 1970, a wind of Revival blew across all over the Eastern States( former Biafra). The catalyst for this Revival was the energetic spiritual awakening among the youth of the war devastated former Biafra. This awakening spread like a wild fire to nearly all the major cities and urban towns of the former Biafra. The epicenter of this spiritual fervor was Enugu which happened to be the former Colonial administrative capital of that entire region. The hub of the movement was the Scripture Union (SU) Central Fellowship which grew to become the largest and incomparable SU Group worldwide. I was a member of this SU group and was one of the sub-group leaders.
We held several night vigils where we not only prayed, but studied and searched the Scriptures. One of the favorite topics was the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. We were a diverse group, a mixture of Conservatives, Pentecostals, Charismatics and even some newly saved Catholics.
We prayed intently and passionately for the fulness of the Holy Spirit. We agonized in prayer for Revival. Although we were divided in our understanding and interpretation of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, we had a common goal-to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We were determined to experience the power of the risen Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. A favorite text we used for prayer was Philippians 3:10, “ That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death “. Romans 12:1-2 was like ” a sing-song” and watchword as we strived to live out our faith in a hostile environment that viewed us as fanatics and a radical sub-culture.
Our endurance and consistent Christian witness constitute what could authentically be described as Life in the Spirit .It is not dissimilar from the stories of Revival described in the previous Pastoral Letters. Life in the Spirit and Revival go hand in hand.
Please join me in this old time prayer: Sing it if you know it.
- Spirit of the Living God, Fall afresh on me
- Spirit of the Living God, Fall afresh on me
- Break me, mold me, fill me and use me
- Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
This introductory material will be subsequently followed by similar various discussions on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit in the believer.