Learning how to be filled (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit by faith can be the most important discovery of your Christian life.
Consider carefully the very last words which our Lord spoke as He met with His disciples on the Mount of Olives only moments before He ascended into heaven. Jesus had commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel and to make disciples of all nations. But He had told them not to leave Jerusalem until they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
“You will receive power,” He said, “when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, New International Version 1984).
By these words, Jesus was suggesting, “Though you have been with Me for three years and more, it is not enough that you have heard Me teach the multitudes and have seen Me heal the sick and even raise the dead. You need to be empowered with the Holy Spirit in order to be effective and fruitful as My witnesses throughout the world.”
A very successful businessman came to Arrowhead Springs, our international headquarters, for training. He was the son of a minister, had been reared under the good influence of the church, had been a Sunday school teacher for years, a Sunday school superintendent, a deacon, a member of the board of trustees of one of the country’s leading theological seminaries, and president of all the laymen for his denomination for an entire state; yet he had never to his knowledge introduced anyone to Christ.
During the training, he learned how to be filled with the Holy Spirit by faith and how to introduce others to Christ. Since that time, he has personally led hundreds of people to Christ and has trained thousands of laypeople and pastors through our Lay Institutes for Evangelism. Thousands of others have been introduced to Christ through those whom he has trained.
The pastor of a 1,500-member church appropriated the fullness of the Holy Spirit at a Pastors’ Institute for Evangelism event at Arrowhead Springs and learned how to introduce others to Christ. During one afternoon of witnessing for Christ, 14 of the 15 people whom this pastor interviewed received Christ. Never had he had such an experience. He returned to his pulpit a changed man. Soon hundreds of his church members had, like their pastor, appropriated the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. They began sharing their enthusiasm for Christ, and through their witness, many more responded to our Savior.
The Christian life is a great adventure. It is a life of purpose and power. Christ has given the almost unbelievable promise, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in My name, and I will do it” (John 14:12-14, NIV 1984).
Obviously, you cannot, in your own energy, accomplish these great works. It is Christ Himself — living within you in all of His resurrection power, walking around in your body, thinking with your mind, loving with your heart, speaking with your lips — who will empower you with the Holy Spirit to do these great works. It is not your wisdom, your eloquence, your logic, your good personality, or your persuasiveness that brings people to our Savior. It is the Son of Man, who came to seek and to save the lost, who sent His Holy Spirit to fill and empower you.
Jesus said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, NIV 1984). First-century Christians, controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and filled with His love, turned the world upside down.
As the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they received a divine, supernatural power that changed them from fearful men to radiant witnesses for Christ. They were used by God to change the course of history. And this same omnipotent power, the power of the Holy Spirit, is available to you to enable you to live a holy and fruitful life for Jesus Christ.
Yet, tragically, multitudes of Christians do not even know who the Holy Spirit is. Or, if they do, they do not know how to appropriate His power. Consequently, they go through life without ever experiencing the abundant and fruitful life which Christ promised to all who trust Him.
Again and again, I am reminded of the great contrast between Christ’s church today and His church in the first century. In his introduction to “Letters to Young Churches,” J.B. Phillips writes:
The great difference between present-day Christianity and that of which we read in these letters, the New Testament epistles, is that to us, it is primarily a performance; to them it was a real experience. We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code or, at best, a rule of heart and life. To these men it is quite plainly the invasion of their lives by a new quality of life together. They do not hesitate to describe this as Christ living in them.
This same first-century power — the power of the risen, living, loving, indwelling Christ made known through the Holy Spirit — is still available to you today.
Do you know this power in your life? Are you a victorious, fruitful witness for Christ? If not, you can be.
I believe the most important message that I can possibly give to Christians is this wonderful, revolutionary news of the Spirit-filled life. I have shared these truths around the world with millions of Christians, old and young. I have never shared any message that has been more used by God to transform the lives of multitudes.
If you are not already experiencing the abundant life which Jesus promised and which is your heritage as a Christian, if you are not already introducing others to Christ as a way of life and you sincerely desire to do so, I have good news for you!
The answers to the following questions can change your life and enable you to experience the abundant and fruitful life which our Lord promises to all who trust and obey Him.
First, who is the Holy Spirit?
Second, why did He come?
Third, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
Fourth, why is the average Christian not filled with the Holy Spirit?
Fifth, how can you be filled with the Holy Spirit?
© 1999 Bill Bright, © 2009 Bright Media Foundation and Campus Crusade for Christ International. All rights reserved. Adapted from Bill Bright, “How You Can Be Filled With The Holy Spirit,” Transferable Concept 3 (Peachtree City, GA; Cru).
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