The Spirit-filled Life
When I came to faith in Christ, (around age 18), it was amongst a group of Christians who came from many different denominations and congregations, but who gathered together on a Friday night for a time of united worship, prayer, testimony and Bible teaching. There were Baptists, and Pentecostals, and Methodists, and people who were so new to the Christian faith that they still weren’t sure what kind of church they attended on Sunday’s other than its name. But one thing they knew for sure – they knew how to experience God; they knew the Holy Spirit – his tangible presence, his miraculous gifts and his character-forming work in their lives.
Also, it all seemed so normal – not weird at all. They didn’t hype it or exaggerate it or use spooky religious jargon. They were just normal, down-to-earth people who had come to know the reality of God’s presence amongst them. Because of that, experiencing the presence of God at worship services, or using the gifts of the Spirit (like praying in tongues, or healing the sick), or intuitively feeling “led” to do or not to do a particular thing, or feeling internally challenged to open up an area of my life to God asking him to grow my character and develop the fruit of the Spirit within me – all of that seemed normal to me, because that was the kind of Christianity I was introduced to. But as the years went on, I discovered that for many Christians, and many churches, the Holy Spirit is totally unknown. Oh, they may know a few Bible verses about the Spirit – but I mean unknown in real experience. In fact, many people are scared to open up to the Holy Spirit – in case it makes them as wacko as some over-the-top charismaniac that they once met or saw on TV. So, we resort to living the Christian life in our own strength, mentally accepting theological concepts (rather than actually living them) and running our churches on “programs” and turning them into “factories” that produce cooky-cutter, one-size-fits-all believers.
I don’t know how we can truly live the Christian life in our own strength. We were never meant to do so. It’s the Spirit who convicts us of our need of Christ in the first place, who then births us into his Kingdom, who clothes us with power, who distributes gifts to us and who develops character in our lives. Without the Spirit’s work, we are just running a religious program. The Spirit is God himself! God’s “presence” amongst us. We don’t have to go looking for the Spirit of God – just open up to the One who is already there.
It seems to me that the Spirit-filled life involves a whole lot of things – there is the fact that the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives long before we come to faith in Christ, and it’s the Holy Spirit who “births” us spiritually into God’s kingdom when we finally do put our faith in Christ .
The Holy Spirit develops our character by growing the “fruit of the Spirit” within us
The Holy Spirit gives us gifts – some seemingly “natural” and “normal” and others seemingly “supernatural” which can even seem “weird” to some people, but all are the regular work of God’s Spirit
We are called to worship God, not through rituals, but “in Spirit and in reality”, so the Spirit helps us worship, and we open up to His presence more and more as we do.
We need to be empowered by the Spirit, and go on continually be re-filled with the Spirit to live our lives in the grace and freedom of God.
Here is a video from the late 1980’s/early 1990’s of the charismatic Renewal and Restoration as it spread throughout Scotland when I was a young Christian (I am even on the video for a few seconds, receiving the baptism in the Spirit – keep your eyes open!). Let’s pray, believe and pen our church and small groups to a fresh breeze of the Spirit, moving amongst us:
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” (2 Corinthians 3:17) – lets seek to live in that freedom every day.