by Rev Philologus O. Irukera | Discipline yourself to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures, Godly counsel from others and the careful prompting of your conscience by the Holy Spirit. The Lord indeed demands obedience from His true disciples (John 14:15, 23)
If you are like me, you are probably wondering like Gideon, at the height of Israel’s humiliation, subjugation and oppression by the coalition of enemies (Judges 6:11-13), why is the Church so ridiculed, weak and seemingly unable to fulfill her Biblical mandates today? Where are the aura of God’s presence and power in the Early Church that elicited fear, respect and goodwill from unbelievers (Acts 2:42-47)? Where are the famed divine exploits through both the leaders and members of the Early Church in our time (Acts 5; 6:8-10; 8; 12-13:3; Rom. 16:3)? Coming closer home in ECWA today, why do will find it difficult to replicate the faith exploits of our forefathers and the missionaries that brought to them the Gospel of Jesus the Christ? I presume the answer boils down to just one factor: the quality and depth of our relationship with God through His Spirit. This informed, sustained dynamic relationship with God through the agency of the Holy Spirit is the heart of the topic of this workshop. Being a workshop, it is expected that this meeting would be interactive. However, it would be impractical to venture into being exhaustive with just an hour long meeting. Hence, we shall depend on the Great Helper Himself to direct us to His choice of area of emphasis as we proceed. Also, some questions have been prepared separately to aid and stimulate discussion on the topic under consideration. I. Truth about the Holy Spirit The Bible is replete with information about the Holy Spirit. For example, right at the beginning in Genesis 1:2, the Bible reveals the role of the Holy Spirit in the creation story. Let us briefly consider some revealed truths about His identity and activities in the Scriptures:
- Holy Spirit is a person. He is not a mere force or influence as some sects would have us believe, but a person with all the related qualities of will, emotion and intellect. Hence, Holy Spirit may be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and His will or instruction resisted or obeyed (Acts 7:51; 13:1-3; 1Thess.5:19). He knows our ways even, our darkest secrets and rebellions (Acts. 5:1-11).
- Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. John 14:26; 16:7, 14-15; Acts 5:3-4, 9. Apostle Peter identifies Holy Spirit as the omniscient God whom Ananias and his wife conspire together and lie to. Co-equal and co-eternal both with the Father and Son yet, the Holy Spirit never works against them. He is in unity with both the Father and the Son because His works conform to their will and interest.
- Holy Spirit was the agent of creation. The Hebrew word ruach translated as Spirit of God in Gen. 1:1-2 can also be rendered as breath of God in reference to God’s power breathing out creation. Interestingly, Jesus Christ whom John identifies as the Word (ho logos) who is God that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14) is also credited with the creation of the universe in Col. 1:15-16. These truths about the Son and Holy Spirit confirm that the creation was a united effort of the three God-heads. So, now we know that God’s call, Let Us make man in Our image, was directed to the Son and the Spirit (Gen. 1:26, HCSB). So focusing on Gen 1:1-2, it is certain that the creation was brought into being through the relentless power of the Holy Spirit.
- Holy Spirit is also the agent of new creation. Apostle Paul describes those who have been saved through the blood of Jesus Christ as new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In His famous nocturnal meeting with Nicodemus, our Lord Himself describes the new creation experience as a state of being born again (John 3:7). He describes it again as being born of the Spirit, to reveal the identity of the Holy Spirit as the one who is behind this life altering spiritual experience in Christ (John 3:5-8).
- Holy Spirit is the Author of the Scriptures. About forty people of various backgrounds, status, educational levels and living across many national boundaries over a period of about fifteen hundred years penned the books of the Bible. Though their education, personalities, experiences and skills were influenced their writings, 2 Timothy 3:16 clarifies for us that these books of the Bible are God-breathed. Apostle Peter clarifies it further for us by stating that these men spoke or wrote from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This fact proves the Holy Spirit as the real Author of the Scriptures.
- Holy Spirit is the promised Helper. In John 14:16-17, 26 Jesus promised to send a new helper to be with His disciples after His departure. Jesus calls this helper paracletos. This word is unique to Apostle John’s writings. It is strictly used for the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel as cited above and is translated as helper, counsel and comforter. It is also used in reference to Jesus Christ in John’s first epistle and translated as advocate (1 John 2:1). Paracletos simply means a person called alongside or called to one’s aid as helper (or comforter, a Latin equivalent), advocate, intercessor or counselor. Jesus makes it clear in John 14:16, 17 and 26 that the Holy Spirit is the intended Helper and not Mohamed as some Muslim apologists spuriously claim. Note that the Helper is sent to be with the disciples, and to live inside of them forever. These and many more that Jesus indicates in verse 26 prove that the late Mohamed the prophet and founder of Islam has never been and cannot be the promised Helper.
- Holy Spirit as Gift. Peter in his Pentecost sermon boldly and passionately pleads with his listeners to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit as the promised gift (Acts 2:38-39). It is hard to believe any less considering the total package the Holy Spirit instantly brings into the life of a newly saved sinner. The following will do to drive this truth home:
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Rom. 6:2-4; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 2:19-22; 4:3-6; 5:30. Otherwise known as Spirit baptism, it is that divine act of the Holy Spirit whereby He baptizes or joins or places the new believer into the body of Christ, the Church- consisting other believers and Christ as the Head. Through this baptism you mystically become part of the body of Christ, His Church regardless of your denomination.
- Indwelling of the Spirit: 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 3:24. It is the gracious act of the Holy Spirit whereby, in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of John 14:16, 26, enters and permanently dwells in every repenting sinner. It is permanent! That is why it is not possible for a redeemed sinner (Christian) to lose the Holy Spirit.
- Sealing work of the Holy Spirit: 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2Tim. 2:19. This is the work of the Holy Spirit whereby at conversion, He affixes on every penitent sinner, the divine stamp of approval and ownership as a guarantee for immediate, ultimate and total salvation.
- Practical works of the Holy Spirit. There are other experiential works of the Holy Spirit especially, in the life of Christians. Below listed are some of them:
- He convicts: John 16:8-11. Holy Spirit exposes the sins of the world, thereby convincing and convicting to bring to shame and possibly repentance, the person being reproved.
- Guides into all truth: John 14:26; 16:12-16. The Holy Spirit teaches and gives biblical insight to believers as well as brings such into remembrance when it is exactly needed.
- Empowers and gifts believers various spiritual gifts for service. Acts 1:8; Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 12. The presence and influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian will condition him/her with the ability to exceed his/her natural ability. Hence, the Lord’s instruction to His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they experience the Holy Spirit before they proceed on the work He assigns them. Also, the Holy Spirit by virtue of His indwelling of believers gives at least, a special ability, otherwise known as spiritual gift, to every Christian to serve or edify the body of Christ (Eph. 2:10; 4:11-13). Christians are saved in Christ for a purpose. We are saved and equipped by the Holy Spirit to serve one another with our spiritual gifts, seeking to build-up one another in faith until we all mature and conform to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). So, no Christian can afford indolence, doing nothing in the congregation of the Called-out of God.
- Intercedes. Romans 8:26, 27. Though the exact interpretation of this verse has been a subject of debate among some Bible students, what is not in doubt is that the Holy Spirit is the dependable Helper of Christian in his/her prayer relationship with God. When in prayer and words fail us in articulating the needs that are sensed in our spirits, the Holy Spirit is always on hand to help those saints who would let Him. He does not replace us or take over our responsibility to pray. Rather, He is our partner, our enabler and helper.
- Infilling of the Holy Spirit. The prerogative of infilling of the Spirit rests with every believer. The decision is yours to make; hence the call to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18, Gal. 5:16). However, the Holy Spirit is always eager and ready to cooperate with every believer to help him/her remain under the influence and control of the Lord. And when we slip, yes, when we lose the infilling of the Holy Spirit due to our foolish and carnal ways, grieving Him (Eph. 4:30), He’s always there, faithfully waiting to help us recover the loss if we truly repent in total humility and submission.
II. Meaning and Reasons for Infilling of the Holy Spirit Meaning of Infilling of the Holy Spirit: Certain phrases in the New Testament give hints and shades of what constitute the infilling or the filling work of the Holy Spirit. Such include controlled by …the Spirit (Rom. 8:9), led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 5:18), live by the Spirit (Rom. 8:5; Gal. 5:16), crucified with Christ …..living by faith (Gal. 2:20), Let the word of Christ dwell in you…(Col. 3:16), …walk in the light …(1John 1:7). They all point to the state of total obedience, surrender and submissiveness under the dominant will and control of the Holy Spirit. So, the filling work of the Holy Spirit can simply be explained as the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit whereby He continuously fills and exercises divine control of the life of a Christian as he consistently and progressively surrenders. Reasons for the Infilling of the Holy Spirit One may ask: why is it necessary for a Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit? The following deserve our careful consideration:
- It is commanded in the Scriptures. Apostle Paul’s call to the Ephesians (5:8) not to be enslaved to fermented drinks but instead be ruled by the Holy Spirit comes standard here. So does also, Gal. 5:16 call to Christians to live strictly under the control of the Holy Spirit to avoid falling under the power of sinful desires of flesh.
- The responsibilities attached to our calling in Christ necessitate that we be filled with the Holy Spirit to succeed. In our service to the dark and dying world on behalf of the Lord, we are expected to shine our light of Christ for all to see (Matt. 5:14-16). As salt we are to demonstrate the sweetness that life in Christ offers and as well as morally and socially season the society to minimize decadence (Matt. 5:13). We are sent to bear witness to Christ as the Savior (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). And to the body of Christ, we are called to use all the gifts and blessings at our disposal to edify or build up one another in faith (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:7-13). We are called and equipped in Christ to produce spiritual fruit to the blessing of others and to the pleasure and glory of the Father (Gal. 5:22). The infilling work of the Holy Spirit is the key to our being successful in all these responsibilities. For it is through the filling work of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to succeed.
- The reality of dangers attendant to Christian pathway necessitates that we be under the total influence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not promise His disciples bed of roses. If anything, He clearly forewarns them to be prepared for difficulties (John 15:18-16:4). Apostle Paul in Ephesian chapter 6:12 acknowledges our struggles against enemies beyond flesh and blood. Therefore, he encourages Ephesians to embrace the infilling work of the Holy Spirit as the only proven pathway to victory (6:10-13). Paul also recognizes the enemy within every Christian to be the sinful nature that seeks to derail our spiritual growth and ascent. To disarm this enemy and forestall the inherent danger, Paul encourages all to surrender to the life under the leadership of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18).
Practical Steps toward Being Filled with the Holy Spirit Now to the question of how a Christian can be filled with the Holy Spirit. The prescription given here is not exhaustive. It is based on the insight gleaned from the Scriptures and from the accrued wisdom of other saints who have trod this path before us.
- Desire sincerely to please God. This is a desire for practical holiness. Matt. 5:6 calls it a thirst and hunger for righteousness. Our Lord calls those who nurture this type of crave blessed with a promise of satiation. The desire to please God does not end with mental activity. It must find culmination in definite and deliberate positive actions described in Psa. 1.
- Confess every unconfessed sin the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance. Trust and thank God for the promised forgiveness of confessed and forsaken sins (I John 1:9). Do not revisit or re-confess the sins that the Lord has forgiven and forgotten (Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Heb. 8:12). Rather sincerely confess and forsake every sin the Holy Spirit convicts you of and move on with total trust in Him for the promise of forgiveness.
- Practice genuine and complete obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22-23). Discipline yourself to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures, Godly counsel from others and the careful prompting of your conscience by the Holy Spirit. The Lord indeed demands obedience from His true disciples (John 14:15, 23).
- Surrender totally your will to the full control of the Holy Spirit. This is a step above obedience; it is total submission. This is Paul’s intention when he says he has been crucified with Christ and that the selfhood in him lives no more but Christ living in Him (Gal. 2:20). Rom. 12:1-2 calls it, offer your bodies as living sacrifices …renewing of your mind. In 1 Thess. 5:19 it is not put (ing) out the Spirit’s fire. Surrender to the authority of the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit.
- Crave to know God intimately more. Despite the fact that he was very close to God already (Numb. 12:6-8), wanting to know Him more, Moses pleads with God, Now show me your glory (Exod. 33:18). Same goes with Paul who craves to know Christ the more (Phil. 3:10). This is one crave every Christian must not outgrow!
- Embrace active fellowship with other saints. This is the clear position of the Scriptures (Heb.10: 25). The rising preference for virtual church under the guise of modernization is disconcerting and inimical to the vision and purpose of Christ for His Church, His body (Eph. 2: 14 -22; 3:14 – 4:16). Nothing should replace physical coming together of His saints for wholesome fellowship. Also, every believer must make it a habit of making deliberate preparation spirit, soul and body, for every fellowship with other saints and our Father just as He instructed Israelites to do in Exod. 19:10, 11.
- Be actively involved in the communal life of your church. The Spirit has endowed every truly born again with at least one spiritual gift. Identify it if you don’t know yours and promptly seek to use it for the mutual building up of members of the household of faith (1 Thess.5:11; Jude 20). Don’t be a bench-warmer in the congregation of the Called-out of God.
- Delight in the word of God. Follow the example of the Psalmist in Psa. 119:9-16. Develop acute interest in it and like an infant, crave the pure spiritual milk (1 Pet. 2:2-3 NIV). Don’t just read and study it but meditate on it and as well, let it be on your lips (Josh.1:8). Above all, in the words of James, our Lord’s brother, be doers of the word and not hearers only (Jas.1:22, HCSB).
- Cultivate the habit of reading Christian materials. Religious publications like magazines, expositional works on Bible characters, biographical works on living or dead exemplary Christians and the likes could be of great help.
- Christian audio/visual materials. Christian drama, documentary and music can be of great benefit for spiritual development if wisely used. At the dedication of Solomon’s new temple, good music released the glory of God that filled the temple (2 Chron. 5:11-14. Music with spiritually rich lyrics potentially, will not only positively appeal to God but can be spiritually enriching to His people.
- Pray continually. (1 Thess. 5:17). It is one thing to truly desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit while it is another, to actually and effectively act on the desire. This is due to the complexities and rebellious inclinations of man. Our Lord understands this too well, when He counsels sleepy Inner Circle, Watch and pray….The spirit is willing, but the body is weak (Matt. 26:41, NIV). Pray continually for the help of the Holy Spirit as you endeavor to align your will with and surrender totally the rule of your life to the Holy Spirit.
Conclusion Holy Spirit is not a mere force. He is fully God in unity with the Father and Son. Holy Spirit is very active in the world out there and in the Church elsewhere today. He is our helper who desires to make His presence and power felt in our lives for our good and to the glory of the Father. Because of our persistent rebellions, we have considerably limited the impacts of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in our lives today. The results are the waning glory and drying river of goodwill that we used to enjoy among men. We now have defeat and restriction in places we ought to have been victorious and unstoppable. We no longer impact the society for the Lord like our forefathers did. The reason is not farfetched. We have not allowed the Holy Spirit the free reign and rule that He is supposed to have in the Church and in our lives. But if we humble ourselves as a people, if I repent and turn submissively to the rule of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in my life, then there will be an end to the era of Ichabod. The renowned acts of the Holy Spirit in the days of yore of our fathers and mothers in the Way (Acts. 9:2) will again be replicated in our own very time. Sinners would be won by loads into the kingdom of God. Fear will grip and awe strike the world all over. And the work of God will be revived again in our church family and in individual lives. Only if we would be ready to say yes to the infilling work of the Holy Spirit! Only if I would jettison my big idol of carnality and you your petty idols of pride, greed, self-centeredness and the likes! If we would surrender to the lead and control of the Holy Spirit and submissively cry, Have your way now Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus! Then we will experience those blessings and benefits of infilling of the Holy Spirit which include peace, joy, practical victory over sin and over power of darkness. We would be empowered to overcome befuddling odds and limitations of life. Above all we would become bold and effective witnesses of Christ, bringing in the bounteous sheaves of ripe harvest of souls like the early Christians (Acts 4:13-20; 5:12-14; 8:4-8) and our forefathers in ECWA did. For the Church, and indeed ECWA, to regain her lost glory, power, fruitfulness, goodwill and respect from the society, we must all go back to the ancient path of total surrender and submission to the leading and control of God the Holy Spirit. For you and me to experience the authentic Biblical prosperity, we must personally allow the Holy Spirit to rule our will and affect. For Him to fill us, we must give Him the total control of our lives. May the Lord help us all as we do so. Amen! References Online Sources Begg, Alistair. (May 12, 2018). Five Truths About the Holy Spirit. June 20, 2018 www.ligoner.org/blog/five-truths-about-holy-spirit/ Bright, Bill. (n.d.) The Steps to Being Filled with the Holy Spirit. June 22, 2018 https://www.cru.org/us/train-and-grow/transferable-concepts/be-filled-with-the-holy-spirit.7.html Walvoord, JohnF. (January 8, 2008) The Filling of the Holy Spirit. July 4, 2018 https://bible.org/seriespage/11-filling-holy-spirit Books and Bible Translations Bridges, Jerry. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006. Cabal, Ted. (G. Ed.) The Apologetics Study Bible (HCSB). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007. Green Sr., Jay P. (G. Ed.) The Interliner Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English. 2nd Edn. London: Hendrickson Publishers, 1986. Griffiths, Michael. Cinderella with Amnesia: A Practical Discussion of the relevance of Church. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975. International Bible Society. The Holy Bible (NIV). Colorado Spring: Biblica, 1984. MacArthur, John F. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992. Willmington, Harold L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011
Rev Philologus O. Irukera is a trained and ordained minister. He is an assistant minister at ECWA Church in Maryland.