DRINK AND DRINK AGAIN

Eph.5:18 – Amp. – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.

We just finished our annual Mardi Gras Saturation services at Victory Fellowship with special guest Pastor Rick Shelton. This was one of the most rewarding weeks for me spiritually in a long time. Pastor Rick went with the theme, spiritual saturation, all week long. If you are not familiar with that terminology I want to take a moment and share this powerful spiritual practice. Saturation means to soak in a substance until you can hold no more. Actually, that is what the Baptism in the Spirit is all about. Baptism means to immerse an object into something. Baptism in the Spirit is an immersion into the substance or person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is tangible and we can soak or saturate in Him until our lives change and miracles break out. The Life in the Spirit Commentary describes it like this.

“Paul says not, ‘be full of the Spirit’, as though one were full of Spirit in the same way that another is full of wine, but ‘be filled by the Spirit,’ with the emphasis on being filled to the full by the Spirit’s presence”, or with “the fullness which the Spirit gives.”

Many Christians aren’t even aware of the availability of the Baptism in the Spirit. They think that when Jesus came into their life that was all that there was for them. The thing being overlooked is the infinite nature of God. Salvation introduces us to the world of the Spirit where multiple fillings are available and necessary. We can never get to the end of Him, heaven will be an endless unveiling of His infinite nature, including His power, beauty, goodness, and wisdom. Wuest has some interesting comments about today’s verse showing that multiple fillings and even continual fillings are available.

The Holy Spirit filled Stephen in the sense that He controlled him. Therefore, the fullness of the Spirit has reference to His control over the believer yielded to Him. “Be constantly being filled with the Spirit.” The interpretation is, “Be constantly, moment by moment, being controlled by the Spirit.”

So that’s what we experienced this week. I experienced a new powerful baptism in the Holy Spirit myself. Now you may think that we are wasting our time on experiential Christianity. That is far from the truth. We are now more motivated and empowered to go about the work of evangelism and discipleship. So I say go ahead and have another drink, the world needs what you have to give.

FOUNTAIN IN YOUR SOUL

Eph.5:18,19 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Being drunk in the Spirit is not some new bizarre twist on Christianity forged in the halls of charismania. Spiritual intoxication is as old as communion or any other sacred part of our Christian faith. Even though this intoxication is often characterized by laughter and extreme joy it is saturated with the very holiness of the Lord. Actually it has erupted throughout church history often scandalizing segments of the body of Christ. It has often been connected to critical seasons for the church, equipping Christians for the persecution and temptations that are rampant in the world. Here is how Augustine described spiritual intoxication and drinking in his day.

“The Holy Spirit has come to abide in you; do not make him withdraw; do not exclude him from your heart in any way. He is a good guest; He found you empty and He filled you; He found you hungry and He satisfied you; He found you thirsty and He has intoxicated you. May He truly intoxicate you! The Apostle said, “Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery.” Then, as if to clarify what we should be intoxicated with, he adds, “But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart”. Doesn’t a person who rejoices in the Lord and sings to Him exuberantly seem like a person who is drunk? I like this kind of intoxication. The Spirit of God is both drink and light.”

Many have left the church in our generation because of a dissatisfaction that has developed in their souls. Churches have scrambled and morphed into a culturally acceptable model to try to keep the crowds. The changes in church hasn’t helped meet the nagging thirst that is in the dissatisfied souls of this age. The solutions are as old as the gospel itself, man is thirsting for God and nothing less will do. The solution for today’s world is the same as the one that has surfaced throughout history. Man is thirsty for living water, the water that becomes a veritable fountain in our souls.

Deep Places

1Cor. 2:10 ¶ these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

We were created to know God and to glorify God by the pleasure and life He brings to us. We are blind to Him and His love (actually thinking we can see) until we actually do see. It’s in knowing Him and seeing Him in all things that we begin to touch the wisdom of God. His love and beauty surround us constantly, yet too often we are distracted by the insignificant and not fixated on His beauty. Then it happens, you hear His voice in the singing of the birds, you see His artwork as He paints the sky on a daily basis, and you see the glory of redemption as He brings humans out of their misery into a place of recovery and life. What could be happening to you? You are touching the edge of the wisdom of God. As you press in, you will find yourself swallowed up in the ocean called the wisdom of God. Here is how Adam Clarke describes it.

“Yea, the deep things of God. It is only the Spirit of God which can reveal the counsels of God: these are the purposes which have existed in His infinite wisdom and goodness from eternity; and particularly what refers to creation, providence, redemption, and eternal glory, as far as men and angels are concerned in these purposes. The apostles were so fully convinced that the scheme of redemption proclaimed by the Gospel was Divine, that they boldly asserted that these things infinitely surpassed the wisdom and comprehension of man. God was now in a certain way become manifest; many attributes of his, which to the heathen world would have for ever lain in obscurity, (for the world by wisdom knew not God,) were now not only brought to light as existing in him, but illustrated by the gracious displays which He had made of himself. It was the Spirit of God alone that could reveal these things…”
So are you a surface dweller, having a casual acquaintance with the Lord but never venturing into the depths of His love? Hopefully you are tired of the superficial and you find yourself longing for the depths. After all, that’s the place you were born to live in and the place you have searched for all of your life.

STEP BY STEP

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Gal. 5:25 ESV ¶ If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

I love the way this verse reads in the ESV translation of the New Testament. This verse describes living in the power of the Spirit to a step by step endeavor. It’s not being filled somewhere in the past or in a recent church meeting, this verse describes being continually filled with the Spirit so that our steps are empowered by the Lord. Now some will say if you are a Christian the Spirit is always in you. Technically and theologically that is true. The problem is this what we have legally doesn’t find its way into our lives consistently. The remedy? Continual fillings, daily walking by the Spirit, is the only way to realize the victorious Christian life. Without His power daily we stumble into different versions of ungodly behavior. As a result, many will alter their definition of grace to fit their experience. We must be filled and filled again to walk in Christlike holiness. Holiness is not a legalistic word, it is a description of one who is in step with the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from the Life in the Spirit NT Commentary.

“Paul’s mandate for holy living is not a new legalism. On the contrary, true holiness can only be wrought by the Spirit of holiness. Hence in Galatians 5:25, Paul exhorts, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” This verse is better translated, “If in fact we are living by the Spirit, then we ought also to walk by the Spirit.” Holiness is a lifestyle that is completely governed by the dictates of God’s Spirit. The word translated “keep in step” (stoichomeri) is derived from stoichos, meaning a “row” or a “line.” So those who submit to the Spirit literally have their steps ordered by the Spirit. Narcissism has no place in the Spirit-filled life. Any self-promotion distorts the body of Christ and casts the sincere contribution of others in a poor light. In turn this “false image” incites others to carnal ambition and petty jealousy. The failure of one tends to implicate all.”

Soooooo, let’s be filled with the Spirit on a daily basis. Spirit filled living is what the New Testament describes. Rather than comparing our behavior to the culture around us, let Christ Himself be formed in us by the Holy Spirit. How can we do that? STEP BY STEP.

THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME

simon-maennling-27238.jpgHeb. 6:5 who tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age,

This passage has intrigued me for several years. The Message Bible brings out an interesting flavor in this verse, “once they’ve personally experienced the sheer goodness of God’s Word and the powers breaking in on us—”. I love that, the powers of the world to come breaking in on us. Ever since I began to experience the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit moving in and on my life I began to catch glimpses of what Paul was getting at in this passage. The Holy Spirit is the kingdom of heaven, every touch of God is a small taste of the very atmosphere of heaven. This touch is saturated with God’s love, peace that passes understanding, joy unspeakable, and a perseverance that endures and conquers all things. Think about it, heaven itself, the kingdom of God, is breaking into our world every time we step into that realm of the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Watchman Nee on this passage.

“The kingdom of God is at once present and to come (Matt. 6:10; 12:28). As to time, it lies ahead of us; as to experience, it is ours today. God intends us to enjoy foretastes here and now of the powers of the future age. All that will be true then universally should be the church’s experience in some real measure now, for all is hers. What is the use of merely knowing all about conditions in the kingdom: the rest, the life eternal, the everlasting covenant, the overthrow of Satan, the authority of God and of His Christ? These are not future prospects alone but powers to be tasted here and now. To taste means to eat a little. It is the preliminary to a feast. We cannot yet feast on all the good things of the kingdom, but we should be savoring them. Where spiritual resources are in demand, let us not live by the present alone. The powers of the age to come are ours.”
If what we are tasting now is this good I can’t imagine how wonderful heaven will be. That’s what Peter meant when he quoted David, “taste and see that the Lord is good”. Tasting this goodness that is breaking into our world today delivers us from the attraction to the world and sets our hearts clearly on His coming kingdom. Come quickly Lord Jesus!!!!

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT

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Eph. 6:16-8 – In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Praying in the Spirit is the source of our power as Christians. Being filled with the Spirit, or walking in the Spirit, is not something that happens in moments of crisis or only special seasons of spiritual revival, it is our normal way of life as Christians. This is where we are strengthened for every aspect of our lives. That is where we are infused with moral courage and strength, power for ministry, grace to live in peace, and the supernatural ability to walk in love. Without this spiritual dynamic in our lives we are left to our own resources to “try” to be Christians. Here is how Andrew Murray describes the importance of praying in the Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit does not come to us just at times when we think we need Him or at times when we think we need His help. The Spirit comes to us as our lifelong companion. He wants to view us as His possession, completely and at all times. Many Christians do not understand this truth. They desire that the Spirit of God help and teach them, but they do not grasp that He wants to live within them continually and have full possession of their lives. Once we understand this, we will realize that it is possible to live while we continually pray through the Spirit. By faith, we will have the certainty that the Spirit will lead us to a prayerful attitude and make us aware of the presence of God, so that our prayer will be an exercise in our fellowship with God and His great love. As long as we limit the working of the Holy Spirit to certain times like Pentecost, it will remain an unsolved riddle to us.”
Praying in the Spirit can take on different forms. We can pray in the Spirit in our natural language, in praying scripture, and also praying in our heavenly language. Praying in the Spirit acknowledges our need for God in every area of our lives. We especially need His help when it comes to prayer. Pray in the Spirit, this is where we find God’s help in all our weaknesses.

I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION

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“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. ”
MATT. 28:5–7”
I recently watched a movie about the very end of the Apostle Peter’s life. It covered his arrest under Nero in Rome and ended at his death. In this movie it showed Peter ministering to an officer in the Roman army. This officer was asking Peter how he knew that Jesus was the Son of God. Peter carefully described Jesus death and then he told the soldier, “I saw Jesus after He was raised from the dead, I ate with Him. He was alive”. That pretty much answered all of the questions, either Peter was a liar (along with 500 other eye witnesses) or Jesus is the Son of God. The Resurrection is the guarantee of our Christian faith. Here are some thoughts from Tozer on the resurrection of Christ.

“The Christian church is helpless and hopeless if it is stripped of the reality and historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The true church of Jesus Christ is necessarily founded upon the belief and the truth that it happened. There was a real death, there was a real tomb, there was a real stone. But, thank God, there was a sovereign Father in heaven, an angel sent to roll the stone away, and a living Savior in a resurrected and glorified body able to “proclaim to His disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth!”
The power of our Christian faith rests on the resurrection. It is because of the resurrection that we are born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, and have the power of God operating in our lives. This power is the omnipotent power of God. This power effects not only our spirit but our mind and body as well. Since the resurrection happened 2000 years ago how can we be sure today? As we hear the word of God or read the word of God our faith in the resurrection becomes as real as Peter’s. We don’t see Him with our physical eyes but our spiritual eyes are opened wide by faith and we experience this resurrection for ourselves.

ALL FILLED

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

Why do we all need to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Actually, there are many answers to that question found in the Bible. The Holy Spirit fills us with boldness to testify about our faith. Stephen teaches us that we can look into heaven and have a glimpse of Jesus and His glory when we are filled with the Spirit. The disciples needed the Holy Spirit to fulfill their individual callings. Even Jesus, ministering as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, was totally dependent on this anointing for Him to move in the power of signs and wonders. Tozer shows us from the Bible why we too need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

“His presence fulfilled that whole list of fragrances found in the holy anointing oil. When New Testament believers were anointed, that anointing was evident. Read it in the book of Acts:

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. (2:4)

They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (4:31)

But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven. (7:55)

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. (10:44)

The list goes on.

“I am happy to tell everyone that the power of the Spirit is glad power! Our Savior, Jesus Christ, lived His beautiful, holy life on earth and did His healing, saving deeds of power in the strength of this oil of gladness.

We must admit that there was more of the holy oil of God on the head of Jesus than on your head or mine—or on the head of anyone else who has ever lived. That is not to say that God will withhold His best from anyone. But the Spirit of God can only anoint in proportion to the willingness He finds in our lives. In the case of Jesus, we are told that He had a special anointing because He loved righteousness and hated iniquity.”
The book of Hebrews tells us about the oil of joy, this is the joy that totally fills our hearts when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. What an amazing gift, we are filled with power to do His work and joy to want to do it. So ask the Lord to fill you again with His Spirit, this is really the source of our Christian life.

BE BEING FILLED

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Eph. 5:18,19 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

Ephesus was not much different from other port cities of the day, sexual immorality, religious idolatry, and drunken behavior were common. Paul’s words to the church were very pointed, we have a different kind of drink and a different source of enjoyment from the culture of the world. In today’s verse Paul is describing the importance of continual fillings so that we don’t become consumed by the culture of the day. New Orleans is not much different; a dose of religion, sexual promiscuity, and plenty of booze is the order of the day. This is not our world as Christians, Paul describes our source of pleasure in today’s verse. Here are some comments from Watchman Nee, sounds like China needs the power of the Spirit as well.

“Plerousthe, ‘be being filled’, is the expression here used in relation to the Holy Spirit. “Allow yourselves to be continually made full.” This describes not a crisis as at Pentecost but a condition we are to enjoy all the time. And it is not a matter of spiritual gifts and manifestations outwardly but of the personal presence and activity of the Holy Spirit of God within our spirits—the oil that guarantees the lamp shall burn on undimmed, long after the midnight hour if need be. Moreover, it is not alone a private, individual thing. It is something we share with other Christians. Paul speaks of making melody together. Some of us may well find it easier to sing solos than to keep in time and harmony in a choir or even in a duet! Yet the fullness of the Spirit is given to us with this very object, that we shall sing together a new song before the throne.”

Née emphasizes the need for joining other Christians in our spiritual drinking. It is in these corporate gatherings that the Holy Spirit comes in the most profound ways. Paul describes singing together as our form of drinking this new wine. He also describes it as “be being filled”. This is what church is, worship takes a prominent role as we drink together in joyful songs. Rather than seeing worship as so kind of preliminary that we can take or leave, we view it now sat the moment when we are all filled with the power of His presence.

FOOLISHNESS OF MAN

1 Cor. 2:14 But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.

The natural, or unsaved man, has no clue when it comes to spiritual things. He has no way to understand because he is blinded to the things of God. Until you have an encounter with God you try to understand Him and His ways with your own human limitations. That never seems to work out very well. The Holy Spirit changes all this. The new birth awakens us to the spiritual world and provides the tools necessary to operate in that world. Lost people have many pre-conceived, often rigid, ideas about spiritual things. The new birth is as if someone has suddenly turned the lights on; actually, that is exactly what happened. The spiritual ‘lights’ are turned on and we can finally see. We see God’s goodness, His purity, His love for us, and we become aware of His incredible power that has become available to us. Her is how A. B. Simpson describes it.

“This is the stupendous truth which revelation holds out, that we may have a divine capacity in order to understand a divine revelation. The Holy Ghost does not annihilate our intellect, but He so quickens it and infuses into it the mind of Christ, that it is practically true “that old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new. He can give us the power to cease from our own thoughts, and He can put into us His divine thoughts. He can make the truth real and living, so that it glows and shines with the vividness of intense realization. He can enable us to grasp it, to feel it, to remember it, and to understand it. He can light up the page until it glows as the firmament of stars at night or as the sunshine of the day that makes all objects plain.”
So the gifts, teachings, and revelations of the Spirit are real and are available to all of us. We become aware of this world by the new birth. We begin to step into this world by receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.