Holy Spirit

Thirst, drink, be filled (John 7:37-39)

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Jesus is at the Passover Feast and He stands up and cries out;

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”

(John 7:37-38)

What is Jesus referring to?  

We don’t need to speculate because John tell’s us in vs39 that Jesus was speaking about the Spirit  those who believed were about to receive once Jesus had been glorified.  Jesus was speaking of the baptism in the Holy Spirit which we can read of again being promised in Luke 24:49 and then can read about being poured out in Acts 1-2.

But what is ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’?

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a personal encounter with the person of the Holy Spirit, who then gives us spiritual gifts to equip us to witness effectively, to break with sin and to enable us for life and godliness.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is:

  • A promise to be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49)
  • A gift (Acts 1:4-5)
  • Experiential (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 8:18, Acts 10:44)
  • Allowing yourself to be totally immersed in God (meaning of the word – baptised)
  • Power from on high for service to God (Luke 24:49 & Acts 1:8)
  • Enabling power for life and for godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
  • Most often evidenced by the receiving of the gift of tongues (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19)

The Need

Jesus told the disciples to wait until they had received power from on high (Luke 24)

Clearly Jesus thought that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was essential because in John 16:5-11 he told the disciples; ‘it is to your advantage that I go…because then the Helper will come”  And who doesn’t need help?

Different Groups of people with regard to the baptism in the Spirit

  • Those who are longing to be filled (Acts 2) spoke in tongues praising God
  • Those who were receptive (Acts 8:14-19).  These were Christians who had a second experience unclear what happened but was ‘wow!’ enough for Simon to want to buy it
  • Those who are hostile – Saul (Romans 8:1-3, 9:1-2 & then was filled with the Holy Spirit 9:17-18)  2nd experience spoke in tongues as a result of this encounter
  • Those who were unlikely (it’s for all), Gentiles (Acts 10-11) spoke in tongues praising God
  • Those who were unaware previously but grew in faith by hearing (Acts 19:1-6)spoke in tongues and prophesied

How do I get baptised in the Holy Spirit?

  • Believe in Jesus (John 7:38)
  • Look to Jesus he is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33)…
  • Thirst/desire the baptism of the Spirit (John 7:37)
  • Ask God for the baptism of the Spirit (Luke 11:9-13)
  • Receive/drink (John 7:37-38 see ESV footnote) have your thirst satisfied by the Holy Spirit

But is baptism in the Holy Spirit a second experience – do we not receive the Spirit at salvation? 

Well the answer is, ‘yes and yes’.  As PJ Smyth says;

“Just as it is biblically indefensible to underplay the receipt of the Spirit at conversion, so also is it to underplay the on-going receipt of the Spirit after conversion…Importantly, whether or not you claim a major ‘baptism in the Spirit’ experience or not, you must remain in on-going pursuit of the Spirit, because scripture speaks of ‘fillings’ of the Spirit post both conversion, and, depending on your interpretation, post a major ‘baptism of the Spirit’ experience that followed conversion.”

Way too much time has been wasted haggling over when we get filled with the Holy Spirit, what is far more important is that we are continually filled with the Spirit so as to bear fruit as Jesus’ words ring in our ears; “apart from me you can do nothing”.

We need to be continually filled with the Spirit in order to live the Christian life, therefore we believe in and anticipate an infilling of the Spirit at conversion (which can’t happen without the work of the Spirit) and also anticipate subsequent in-fillings of the Spirit that are real and tangible as recorded in the book of Acts.

So, keep being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) so that you might be full of the life of God (John 7:37-38)!

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The Remix

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Psalm 84 was written in the era of the old covenant when God’s presence was tied to a place but now in this era of Jesus having come, the temple curtain having been torn and the Holy Spirit having been sent by the risen Christ this is my re-mix version of the Psalm especially in the light of John 1:1-14 & 1 Corinthians 6:19.  Original in italics, remix in bold.

1  How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! 

How special & privileged are all people in whom Your Spirit dwells now, God almighty!

 2  My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord;  

My soul longs for, yes even despairs when I am not intimate with You Father;

my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 

My heart, my whole being responds to your tangible presence, God who is alive in me.

3  Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, 

Even sparrows have a place they belong, & swallows a place of safety for bearing young

at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.  In Your presence O God almighty 

They’re in Your presence continually almighty God, my King and my God

4  Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah 

Blessed are those who live aware of your presence, they will always be worshipping You!

5  Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

Blessed are those whose strength is in You, 

in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

those whose hearts are set on eternity with You now and forever.

6  As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.

Because You’re with them, even in them, even desolate hard times & places can be transformed into times & places full of the life of God & refreshing;

7  They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 

Those who walk with You and with You in them are getting stronger each day until each one appears in glory in Your glorious presence at Your appearing at the end of the age.

 8  O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah 

God almighty, Father God, God of covenant promises please hear my prayer now.

 9  Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 

I speak to myself saying; ‘Behold your defender, God with you’. Father please see me now.

 10  For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. 

Father God, better is one day with You, in your presence, having You within me than thousands elsewhere far from You.

  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 

The allure of the world has no allure for me I am content to know You, to know Your presence to know I am your child, I don’t need fame or fortune when I have You.

 11  For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. 

God You’re the One who gives me life, You’re my protector, You bless me again and again and care about my honour.

No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 

God, You are better than I could have ever imagined, more gracious, loving, generous & kind towards those who have put their faith in You.

 12  O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! 

God almighty, blessed is anyone who puts their trust in You!

The power of promises…

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What are God’s ‘precious and very great promises’ Peter refers to in 2 Peter 1:1-4? After all they seem to contain incredible life transforming power as Peter says that “through them you might become partakers of the divine nature”!  So, what are the promises that Peter might have had in mind?

Maybe Peter was thinking of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh, and of Jesus as the promised Messiah that he referenced in his sermon at Pentecost… (Acts 2)

That seems likely as it would also fit the textual context here in 2 Peter 1 as he has just said that God’s ‘divine power’, has given us ‘everything we need for life and godliness’ (NIV). God’s power is not some impersonal force in Scripture, rather Peter is in all likelihood referring to the person of the Holy Spirit whom John also describes as our “Helper” (See John 14-16 in ESV)!

So, with the precious and very great promise of new life through faith in Christ Jesus as Messiah, and with the precious and very great promise of divine enabling power by the Spirit who leads us not into sin but into Christliekness (Galatians 5:16-24) as we keep in step with Him and as we are enabled by His power in us…

…we as people CAN share in God’s excellency, in God’s divine nature and character – it’s possible when we are living out our new life in Christ (Galatians 2:20) enabled by and Helped by the Holy Spirit.

So let’s remember these precious and very great promises of new life in Christ and the empowering and guiding the Holy Spirit our Helper, let’s draw on His help and in so doing become more and more like our Father who is in heaven.

By Gareth Bowley

Full…

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full (fʊl/), adjective
containing or holding as much or as many as possible; having no empty space.

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness (Luke 4:1)

My eye is drawn to this phrase ‘Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit’ in Luke 4:1. This sentence is translated in the same way in 7 of the 8 translations I looked at. So the underlying meaning is clear, but what does it tell me about Jesus and what does it mean for us for me today?

Matthew and Mark use the same word translated in Greek to describe the measure of leftover bread after Jesus fed the thousands and they collected the excess. Luke uses the same word to describe the man covered totally by leprosy. John uses the same word when he describes Jesus and tells us about the measure of total grace and truth Jesus possessed. Luke later in his account uses the same word to describe how the early church were instructed by the Apostles to look for men ‘full of the Spirit and of wisdom’ and uses it to also describe the measure of Stephen’s faith and of Tabitha’s good works and mercy gift.

Today the word means, to contain as much as is possible and it’s safe to say that the same meaning is apparent in it’s original context.

From Luke and the other eye witness accounts, we know that as Jesus was coming up out of the water at His baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus. Now we read about the measure or the result of that anointing, that coming upon by the Spirit, in the man Jesus. He was full of the Holy Spirit.

Before continuing the narrative, Luke wants to tell us something descriptive about Jesus. It is meant to help us understand who He was and what He was like and how or by what power He was acting. Luke describes Jesus as full of the Spirit, overflowing in the Spirit like the baskets of bread, covered with the Spirit like the man who had leprosy all over – Jesus was filled to capacity by the Holy Spirit.

This is a key description of Jesus for Luke who later explains the source of Jesus’ ministry power in the following way;

“you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:37-38)

For Luke then, there is an intimate connection between Jesus’ acts of power and His being full of or anointed by God with the Holy Spirit. The source of Jesus’ being guided into the desert and having power to resist the temptation of the devil, the source of Jesus’ ministry effectiveness was His being ‘full of the Holy Spirit’.

It is vital that we see that this being ‘full of Holy Spirit’ as an attribute of Jesus’ humanity, not His deity. Like Luke’s description of Jesus here, Elizabeth, the first deacons, Stephen & Tabitha are all described in the same way by Luke as Jesus is being described here. None of these other people were divine but rather human in every way, just like you and I. And yet they too were described as being filled or full of the Holy Spirit too!

This means that being filled/full of the Holy Spirit is a possibility for us a believers too.

More than that is a necessity that we be full of the Holy Spirit, which is why Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit before they embarked on fulfilling His great commandment and great commission (see Luke 24:49 & Acts 1:1-8) and why Paul commanded the Ephesian believers to “be filled with the Spirit” in light of the evil days in which we live out our followership of Jesus.

Luke describes Jesus as full of the Spirit, Paul exhorts us to be filled (crammed to the full – literal meaning of the word he used). Some questions arise; ‘Is this fullness automatic?’ ‘If it is possible/necessary to be full of the Holy Spirit, then is it possible to not be full?’ ‘How can I/we be filled/full of the Holy Spirit?’ and ‘What caused Luke to describe Jesus in this way, what did he observe in Jesus that resulted in this description?’

Luke’s description of Jesus as full of the Holy Spirit would have been superfluous and just literary padding if it was not necessary, if it were not distinguishing Jesus’ state from other possible states (like not being full of the Spirit).

Paul’s commandment for us to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” would be non-sensical if it were not possible for one to be in a state of ‘not-being-full-of-the-Holy-Spirit’, and it would be a non-sensical command if it were not possible to in fact be filled with the Holy Spirit, like Jesus was!

Much more could be written, but for today my prayer is simply; “Father, fill me to the full with the Holy Spirit, anoint me as You anointed Your Son. Amen.”