Filled With The Spirit
Filled with the Spirit
Acts 2: 4: "They were filled with the Holy Spirit."
This is the great thing that happened!Was this a momentary phenomenon?
Were the disciples able to continue this amazing performance?
This is the central thing that happened.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
The symbols of the sound and the sight are surrounding, interesting and valuable,
but the central fact is: "... all filled..."
We must remember that all of them had the Spirit even before Pentecost, just as did
the saints of the Old Testament.
No saving faith was ever possible without the Spirit.
In the case of the eleven, we must recall the verse of John 20: 22:
"And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them,
' Receive the Holy Spirit. '"
The disciples had already received the Holy Spirit, but now they were filled with Him.
They were brought completely under His control.
For the disciples that was the essential experience of Pentecost.
It was repeated again and again in the days which followed.
It is a normal and natural experience for all the followers of Christ.
The Holy Spirit never leaves a believer.
As a believer surrenders more of himself to the will of the Lord he is absolutely dominated
and monopolize by the Holy Spirit.
"Filled" can mean nothing less than that the whole capacity of each
person was occupied and all his being was under the influence of God's Spirit.
Possibly, the degree of receptivity varied, but the lesser and the larger vessels were all full.
The whole nature was influenced because that Divine Spirit entered into every part of the soul
of those believers.
The Holy Spirit will prove Himself as the Spirit of Truth to the understanding.
He will be the Spirit of power and love and of self-control to the will and the affections.
He will govern the reason.
The believer's whole nature will be filled with Him, and the believer will flame with warm
brilliance reflecting the Christ who lives within him.
"And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues
as the Spirit gave them utterance."
On the day of Pentecost the disciples were endowed with a supernatural gift.
They were able to speak in foreign languages, and this confounded the crowd
because all the speakers were Galileans and yet they were speaking in languages
which they had not acquired.
The Jews from other lands were amazed because they heard the disciples speaking
in their own dialects.
There were skeptics present who belittled the incident and said that the disciples were drunk.
Luke records two other events of speaking in tongues.
One was in the house of Cornelius. (Acts 10: 46)
The other was at Ephesus. (Acts 19:6)
After the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles at Caesarea, they spoke in tongues and praised God.
There is no apparent reason why the people should on this occasion speak in different languages.
They could understand each other by the use of one language.
Perhaps, this was an ecstatic utterance to express the joy which they felt by this great experience.
At Ephesus, Paul met about twelve men who were disciples of John the Baptists.
They had not received the Holy Spirit, so he baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus.
When Paul placed his hands upon the disciples, the Holy Spirit came upon them,
and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
In both of these incidents we see that there is no particular reason to speak in different languages.
It is noticeable that Luke does not infer that this is what happened.
So, it is only in the Pentecostal episode that Luke explicitly says the disciples spoke in other dialects.
This may indicate that he interprets it as a once-for-all phenomenon.
Paul, in his relations with the church at Corinth, had to withstand the influence
and excesses of the ecstatics and their exaggerated regard for the spiritual gift of tongues.
In their eagerness for some manifestation of the Spirit to demonstrate the power of God
and also to give evidence of their spiritual superiority, some of the Christians in Corinth
reverted to their pagan practices by speaking in an outlandish gibberish.
Paul could not endorse this kind of spiritual gift without certain reservations.
Ambiguous utterances and obscure sounds were found to confirm skepticism among
the unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14: 23)
This sort of speech had value only for the individual which participated in it,
unless the incoherent murmurs could be interpreted. (1 Corinthians 14: 13ff.)
Paul exhorted the Corinthians to engage in the spiritual gift of prophecy because it was more profitable.
(1 Corinthians 14: 1ff.)
Can we equate the unintelligible speech in Corinth with what Luke describes in Acts?
This may be done in the case of those who received the Spirit at Caesarea
and perhaps the disciples of John at Ephesus, but the manifestation on the day of Pentecost
seems to be completely unrelated to the emotional experience of the Corinthians.
But this third symbol at Pentecost was not gibberish;
these were known languages spoken in that very region as well as in other places of the earth.
Those who were there understood the words.
The tongues here were edifying proclamations; they were intelligent utterances.
These men were praising God in languages.
The people in the audience heard the disciples telling of the mighty works of God.
Erdman states: "This ability to speak in foreign languages not previously learned
was merely a temporary endowment granted for a special purpose.
It was one of those miraculous spiritual gifts which marked the age of the apostles.
In modern times the claim to possess this power has never been established
by credible evidence, nor is the dominance of the Spirit in the life of the believer to be tested
by the practice of any special gift."
One who is obedient to His Master is granted the ability to do the will of the Master,
not necessarily in spectacular service, but surely in holy living for
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, meekness, self-control."
So, this gift at Pentecost made it possible for the gospel to be given on a single day
to hearers from many different nations.
Miracles, however, did occasion surprise and arouse interest; for this they were designed.
So, the gifts of tongues drew a great multitude and focused their attention upon the message,
to which otherwise, they might have been indifferent.
For when "every man heard them speaking in his own language... they were amazed
Miracles were "signs" of divine power.
They were symbols of abiding truth.
The abiding truth at Pentecost is that the Holy Spirit will always enable us to speak with boldness,
clarity, sincerity, and earnestness, as we tell of the mighty works of God in languages that are known.
There is a miracle here, no question about it.
But the important point is that these men and women were seized by the Holy Spirit
and filled with utterance and with proclamation.
Several times in the Book of Acts it says that the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit.
But on those occasions they did not speak in other languages; they spoke in their own language.
We would be wise to heed the warning of William G. Scroggie who said:
"Thank God, we may and should be filled with the Spirit, with a fullness that means nothing less
than a dethronement of self, and an enthronement of Christ.
The craving today, on the part of many believers, for sensational signs, is most unhealthy;
it is destructive of sober Bible study, and invariably leads to pitiful extremes in belief and conduct."
The church of today should be filled with the same power, the same passion, and the same proclamation.
It is exciting to see the Lord reviving His church today.
It is happening here.
It is not the spectacular, miraculous demonstrations, but it is the outbreak of resistless power,
like a mighty wind blowing were no man knows where, leading into new ventures,
new methods, new approaches, and filling God's people with a passion and hunger for God.
We need such power to consume the dross, the garbage,
and the waste of our lives and of our society.
Such power will compel us to speak to others about the glorious reality of a God Who lives within,
and Who is mighty and adequate in all that He does.
What an exciting thing it is to be a member of this living body!
The same Power, who took 120 individuals and made one body of them, is doing that today
-- right here!!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White