I believe the Lord has laid with me to share with you these nights from the book of Acts. So I want you to turn with me to the Acts Of The Apostles - and by the end of Friday night, you're going to know all of the book of Acts, and that'll be a miracle in itself! If you ever believed the day of miracles was over, you're going to see a wonderful miracle as I take you through the whole book this week! No, what I want to do is look at the themes, six themes that I feel are the major themes of the book of Acts. I've entitled this series “When God ACTS!” - what happens when God does His work, His way. We're going to look at various subjects, tonight we're going to look at the fact that when God does His work His way, 'The Gift Of The Holy Spirit Is Released'. Tomorrow evening we're going to look at how there will be 'Boldness In Witness', then we're going to see the next evening 'The Miraculous Is Displayed' when God does His work His way. Our fourth study will show that there will be 'Unity In The Body'; the fifth, there will be 'Missionary Expansion'; and the sixth, on Friday night God willing, 'Convention Is Challenged' when God does His work His way, “When God ACTS!”.
Tonight we're looking at the gift of the Spirit being released, and so do turn with me to Acts chapter 1. Before we read, let us pray - and I want you to do something for me just now. I want you to pray for yourself, would you do that? Just for one moment, ask God that He will speak to you tonight, would you do that? Please do that, because I believe God answers that prayer, and He will meet you this evening. If you have an open heart, and you genuinely mean what you're about to pray, He will meet you and He will speak to you.
Let's pray together: Abba Father, we come to You in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we lift up His name in prayer just now as we have already been doing in song and in praise. We just ask, Lord, as we invoke His name that, by faith, we would invoke the very presence of the living Christ. We want to become present to Your presence, Lord. Thrice Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - may we know that You are here. We believe that You are here, but, Lord, we long for a manifestation of Your presence to our spirits, that indeed we might sense that God is among us. We believe that the early disciples had a certain sense that God had come, particularly at Pentecost - and Lord, we pray that we may know that You are with us, we pray that people for whom You are darkened and veiled and strangely distant, would tonight encounter a visitation of the Lord. We ask that all of us would know the Lord drawing strangely near, we ask that every single one of us will hear from heaven, and hear the voice of God to our souls. I take authority in the name of the Lord Jesus over every other presence that might be at work in this place, I bind you in Jesus' name. I pray, Father, in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus that You will release the power of Your word now by the Holy Spirit. Come Lord Jesus, come Holy Spirit, and reveal the Father to us. Amen.
Verse 1 of Acts 1, Luke, of course, writes, and he says: "The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach" - now, of course, what he's referring to there, Luke, is his gospel, the gospel of Luke. If you quickly turn to that, right back to the third gospel, you will see that he also addresses this book to Theophilus. In verse 1 of Luke 1 we read: 'Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed'. Now it appears that at one point the gospel of Luke and the Acts, as we have come to know it as 'The Acts of the Apostles' - I think, erroneously so - Luke and Acts were two volumes of one book addressed to this man Theophilus. If you have even a smattering of Greek, you might know that 'Theophilus' means 'lover of God'. So many believe that Theophilus is a symbolic name for lovers of God everywhere - now, certainly every God-lover will love the book of Acts, no doubt about that. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones called Acts, 'That most lyrical of books', he said, 'Live in that book, I exhort you, it is a tonic, the greatest tonic I know of in the realm of the spirit' - and I think you're going to fall in love with the book of Acts this week, if you never have done before. But Theophilus is called in Luke, 'the most excellent Theophilus', and I think that indicates a title of officialdom - he was probably an official of some kind, and some think that since the Acts ends with Paul awaiting trial before Caesar, that Luke-Acts are a defence brief on Paul's behalf to give a Roman official the background on Paul's case. So Theophilus might well have been Paul's attorney, we don't know for sure, but it might fit into the whole scenario. So perhaps Luke wanted to show that Rome had nothing to fear from Christianity and from the apostle Paul.
Let me be a bit personal for a moment or two: for years I viewed Acts as merely a history of the primitive church. Luke, of course, is an excellent historian, there is no doubt about that - the historical accuracy of Acts is attested. As history, I found Acts incredibly exciting, it was inspiring, and even applicable to me as a Christian and to the church at large in a variety of ways - but I did believe that caution was necessary. You had to be careful with the book of Acts, and we must beware of expecting to see such phenomena in the church today that we see outlined in this book. Now I still have no doubt that there are some features in Acts probably unique to the original church, however I believe my previous approach was wrong - not least for the fact that there is nothing in the book of Acts, or indeed in the rest of the New Testament, to lead us to believe that we ought to expect anything other than the type of Christianity displayed in the book of Acts. I believe what we see in the church in Acts is normative Christianity - it certainly is not normal today, but it was when the church was born. Let me challenge you here tonight if your view of the book of Acts has previously been just as a history with some modern day application: why is it that we don't think that way related to the Gospels, even Luke's gospel. I mean it probably is one book Luke-Acts, so why do we not just look at Luke's gospel as mere history - no, when we read it and the other gospels, and preach the gospels, we believe that the Holy Spirit inspired these words not for an historic record alone, but to teach us spiritual truth for today, something that we need to know now. So for this reason I see Acts as a kind of theological narrative, that simply means an historically accurate account of events, but it's intended to teach us something, to teach us something we need to know as individual Christians, and something that the church needs to rediscover today more than ever.
So then, what does Acts teach us? Well, we see that Luke is being referred to here at the beginning, and Luke wrote the gospel of Luke to Theophilus, 'of all that Jesus began both to do and teach' - verse 1. What Jesus began to do and teach, the Acts of the Apostles tells us what Jesus continued to do and continued to teach through the Holy Spirit on the Earth via the church. Jesus is always the centre when God acts, Jesus is always the theme of God's actions - as Paul said in Romans 11:36: 'For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen'. The gospel of Luke is about all that Jesus began to do and teach, and the Acts of the Apostles tells us of that middle period, after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ - look at verse 2, "until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which', He said, 'you have heard from Me'".
On the Earth He chose apostles, He suffered on the cross, He was buried, He rose again the third day, forty days later He ascended to heaven - but during that time when He was with the disciples in His resurrected body, He taught them things concerning the Kingdom of God, and then He sent the Holy Spirit - and that's what you're reading about in the Acts of the Apostles. What Jesus began to do and teach in Luke, He now continues to do and teach on the Earth through His church by the power of the Holy Spirit. I hinted at the beginning that I think the title 'Acts of the Apostles' is probably an erroneous title, because it's not about what the apostles did at all. Now we do read a lot about the apostle Peter, and the apostle Paul, but there is almost nothing about any of the other apostles - did you ever notice that in Acts? In fact, other characters like Stephen and Philip have a greater prominence in the book. Now why is that? Because this book is not a history of the apostles primarily, but it is an account of the acts of God's Spirit through ordinary everyday disciples like you and me - that's why it's so encouraging! What Jesus began to do and teach was not just to be continued on by the apostles and even the early church, but every disciple that would follow: God wants to act through you. When He does, He will work by His Spirit. When God acts, the gift of the Holy Spirit is released.
So I want you to see two things tonight, first of all: the promise that Jesus refers to; and then the Day of Pentecost that is the actual account of the outpouring of the Spirit. In chapter 1 we see here in verse 4: 'being assembled together with them, Jesus commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which', He said, 'you have heard from Me''. The source of the promise is found here, it is 'the Promise of the Father', Jesus said, 'which you have heard from Me'. Now, when did they hear about this promise? Well, turn back with me to John 14 verse 16, Jesus says: 'And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper', or 'Comforter', or 'Encourager', 'Strengthener', 'that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you'. He promised the Holy Spirit, the Promise of the Father, to strengthen these weak believers, to encourage them, to comfort them and build them up. We see here that Jesus is saying, 'He will dwell with you and be in you', the Holy Spirit would be an indweller, to a large extent the ministry of Christ on the Earth was a local ministry, and was an external ministry; but the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He would come, and He would be universal in His influence, and He would be internal in His impact. He would come to dwell within believers.
Look at verse 26 of John 14: 'But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you'. The Holy Spirit would be the Teacher of these believers in Christ, He would remind them of the things that Jesus first taught. This is the Promise of the Father that Jesus told them about. If you turn to chapter 16 of John, you see that He refers to further things concerning the Holy Spirit, verse 7 of John 16: 'Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away' - imagine that, telling the disciples who walked with Jesus that it was better that He went! 'It's to your advantage; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment'. He would reprove the world, He would convince the world of their sin and guilt before God, and the necessity of a Saviour in Jesus Christ.
Look at verse 13 of chapter 16, further promised: 'When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come'. The Holy Spirit will guide, He will be a Revelator, He will reveal Christ. The job of the Holy Spirit would be to shine the spotlight on Jesus Christ. As someone put it, 'The purpose of the giving of the Holy Spirit was to glorify Jesus every day from the Ascension to the Second Coming'. The Holy Spirit would show Christ to us, that is revelation - but the Holy Spirit would also form Christ in us, that is confirmation: He would make us like Jesus.
The substance of this promise in verse 8 of Acts 1 is: 'But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'. The substance of the promise was power to be witnesses to Jesus. Now let's pause for a moment: many people want the Holy Spirit, and they want more of the Holy Spirit, they maybe want to do miracles - but they don't want to witness for Jesus. Some people want the gift of tongues, but they don't want to use their natural tongue to tell of Jesus. Some want to witness in their Jerusalem, their hometown, or their comfort zone, but they don't want to go to their Samaria - that is, that place where they are prejudiced against and bigoted towards. You don't have to think too hard to apply that in Ulster. Maybe they don't want to go to the ends of the earth - let's face it, who would? It's very inconvenient. But, you see, this power is not just for our own tantalisation and thrill, the substance of this power was given in order that we would be witnesses to Jesus.
The signal of the fulfilment of the giving of this promise is found in verse 9 of Acts 1: 'Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight'. Now the Ascension, that's what that is, is significant on many levels - but related to the giving of the Holy Spirit, it is highly significant. Jesus said in John 7: ''He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified' - but the time has now come! Jesus has been glorified here in chapter 1, He has now ascended to the glory beside His Father that He had with Him before the world began, and now we see Pentecost. The promise is fulfilled, and the Spirit is outpoured.
Look at chapter 2 quickly, verse 1: 'When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language'. Down, please, to verse 12: 'So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, 'Whatever could this mean?'. Others mocking said, 'They are full of new wine'. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved''.
Pentecost means 'fiftieth', and Pentecost was a feast of the Jews. It was called 'Pentecost', because it was held 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits. If you have time you could go home and read Leviticus 23, and the calendar of the Jewish feasts is like an outline of the work and life of Jesus Christ. Look at it: there is the Feast of Passover, and Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world, He is our Passover, Paul says in Corinthians. Then there is the Feast of First Fruits, which pictures the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, He is the first fruits of those who sleep, who have been raised in Him. But fifty days after First Fruits, fifty days after resurrection is the Feast of Pentecost, which pictures the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and the formation of the church.
Now there is a sense in which we do not need another Pentecost, we don't need another Pentecost just like we don't need another Calvary, and we don't need another resurrection - but what is certain is that we need to personally, each of us, encounter Pentecost, just as we need our own experience of Calvary and the resurrection. So I want to ask you tonight, having looked at all this historic data, there is something that the Holy Spirit is teaching us, and that is that we need our personal Pentecost. I believe that Jesus died for all men, but does that mean that all men are saved because Jesus died for the world? Of course it doesn't, you must repent, and you must believe the Gospel: 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God'. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, but does that mean that I am in touch with that same resurrection life that brought Him from the grave? Of course it doesn't, I have to enter in by faith into what Jesus did for me. Equally so, just because the Holy Spirit was outpoured at Pentecost, does that mean that I am living in the fullness and the power of the baptism of the Spirit? No it doesn't, otherwise Paul would never have said in Ephesians 5:18 to a group of Christians: 'Be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit'. It's emphatic, it's a command, you've got to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So, are you?
In verse 16, Peter preaches, and he says 'This is that', Authorised Version says, I like that: 'This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel', that in the last days - and we are in the last days, the last days, I believe, is that period from the Ascension of our Lord Jesus right to His second coming - in the last days God's Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. In Acts chapter 2, we see it in Jerusalem and Judea. The Jews came from all over the Empire, but Jerusalem and Judea got hit by the power of Pentecost. But if you come with me to chapter 8, quickly, you see the Samaritans get an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Do you remember what Jesus said? 'When the Holy Spirit is come upon you, you will be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria'. Look at verse 14 of Acts 8: 'Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them' - now these are believers, they're already converted - 'he prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit'. The Samaritans are now getting impacted by the power of the Holy Spirit - it's necessary, it wasn't enough that they were converted and they were baptised in the name of Jesus, they needed the power of Pentecost.
But it didn't stop with the Samaritans. In chapter 10 we see the Gentiles get the Holy Spirit. What did Jesus promise? 'Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world' - that's you and me, Gentile people. Look at verse 44, this is in Cornelius' house, and Peter has preached to them words whereby they may be saved, and in verse 44 we read: 'While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision', that is, the Jews, 'who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 'Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?'. And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days'.
Do you see what's happening here? Jerusalem, Judea, the Samaritans, the Gentiles are not just repenting and believing and being baptised, but they are knowing the full immersion of the power of God that is necessary to live out this Christian life. You cannot live Christianity without the Holy Spirit, there is no such a thing! But there is another group in Acts, and they are an interesting crowd - you'd think that would be the end, you know, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world, but turn with me to chapter 19 for a moment. Now I know I'm covering a lot of ground here, but I think it's important. In Acts 19 we have a little group - a group of twelve, incidentally - Ephesian believers who are lagging behind somewhat in this whole power of Pentecost thing. Now look at verse 1 of chapter 19: 'It happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?'. So they said to him, 'We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit'. And he said to them, 'Into what then were you baptized?'. So they said, 'Into John's baptism'. Then Paul said, 'John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him', that's Jesus, 'who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus'. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all'.
Now by the reply of these Ephesians in verse 2, 'We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit', well, it reveals that they don't have a complete knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, what He did on the cross for them, dying for their sins, the resurrection, and the power that is available for them. Now this is a bit of a controversial passage. Some people believe that these folk weren't saved. I believe they are, simply because they are called 'disciples' in verse 1, and in verse 4 it says that they had believed in Jesus, though it was through the preaching of John the Baptist they still had believed in the Christ. But it appears that they hadn't been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, Christian baptism, neither had they been baptised in the power of the Spirit. Now there is a tough question here, and I'm not entering into it tonight - were these people 'complete Christians'? We'll leave that one, but one thing is absolutely sure: Paul, when he met them, perceived that there was something lacking of the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their life.
I want to ask you tonight, at the beginning of this series looking at how God acts, what happens when God does His work His way in our lives, in our churches, and in our community: is there something lacking in your life as a Christian? Dare I say it, and I've only met you folk, but I have to say it, I'm the preacher: is there something lacking in the life of this church in the life of the Spirit? Would someone look at your life or mine and see a conspicuous absence of the Holy Spirit, His peace, His power? Or what do you see when you look at your own life as a Christian? You were singing tonight, 'There must be more than this' - is that the way you feel? I tell you, I'm going around the province, and a little bit further afield now and again, not too far, certainly not the uttermost ends of the earth - but I'm meeting so many people, and they're saying: 'There must be more than this!'. Even in our province, that has a glut of excellent Bible expository preaching, there are Christians sitting in the pew who are starving of the actual word of God that has been spoken from the mouth of God. There is much of the letter that kills, but very little of the living word of God by which we are to live as Daily Bread.
'There must be more than this'. Maybe you have been a Christian years, and you're saying, 'There must be more'. C.H. Spurgeon, when he preached on Acts 19, said this: 'Have you then received the Spirit since you believed? Beloved, are you now receiving the Spirit? Are you living under His Divine influence? Are you filled with His power? Put the question personally', he said. 'I am afraid some professors will have to admit that they hardly know whether there be any Holy Ghost. And others will have to confess that though they have enjoyed a little of His saving work, yet they do not know much of His ennobling and sanctifying influence'. Spurgeon wasn't a charismatic, whatever that means anyway. You say, 'Well, I don't know really, I mean, I don't know, perhaps I am walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit right now, perhaps I'm not. I'm just not sure, I don't really know'. Well, can I tell you: if you are walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, you will know it! Imagine someone saying: 'I don't know if I'm saved or not, I don't know if my sins are forgiven' - maybe that's where you are tonight. Listen, the Bible was written that you might know that you have eternal life. Just as it is not an arrogant thing to say, 'I know my sins are forgiven, I have peace with God, I am justified and I'm on my way to heaven', neither is it an arrogant thing to say, 'I know that I have been filled with the Holy Spirit'. It's all of grace, and it's all through faith! It has been provided through the death, the resurrection, the ascension, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ - and we receive it by simple faith - but you will know it! Spurgeon also said: 'Give a man an electric shock, and I warrant you he will know it; but if he has the Holy Ghost, he will know it much more'.
Others will know it to boot. I challenge you: you know a preacher who has the fullness of the Holy Spirit from a preacher who doesn't, you know it. You know a man or a woman who is filled with the Holy Spirit from someone who isn't. I don't like being too personal in messages, but I was thinking of a whole load of illustrations I could use to close this message tonight. I could use a story about D.L. Moody, or I could use a story about R.A. Torrey, or other great evangelists, great preachers who met God in a very special way after they were converted, and the change that it made in their lives - and I felt the Holy Spirit saying: 'What about your story?'. I don't want to tell that one! But for years - and I'll be giving my testimony later to the young people - for years I sought, by simple faith, and I believe that's the way you seek being filled with the Holy Spirit, by faith I sought God and asked Him upon Luke 11:13, 'If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!'. By faith, just in childlike faith the way I got saved, I took Him at His word and I asked Him to do it - but if you had asked me, right into ministry, if you had asked me: 'Are you absolutely sure, are you sure that you are filled with the Holy Spirit?', I would've said 'I believe it, I have taken by faith', but I lacked a subjective witness that the Comforter had come. I couldn't have really said, 'I know for sure'.
What about you tonight? Do you know? I have to finish the story: there did come a day. I don't know when I was actually filled, but I know when I got the witness that I had been filled - and I know, but I know that I know that I was filled. Now I leak, like you do and all of us do, that's why we need to be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit. Many Christians know nothing experimentally of the Holy Spirit, and Paul's question applies to you tonight, listen: did you receive the Holy Spirit in fullness when you believed?
The early church had none of the things that we think are so necessary for success. They didn't have seminary theological training, they didn't have beautiful buildings like this, they didn't have money, they didn't have political influence, legal clout, or social status, and yet the church won multitudes for Christ and saw many churches established in a godless Roman world - why? Because they had the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit. Vance Havner said: 'We are not going to move this world by criticism of it, nor conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God'.
Well, are you saying tonight: 'There must be more than this'? When God acts, when God does His work His way, there is always a release of the Holy Spirit. I believe God wants to work in a big way this week and next, and if He is, He's going to release the Spirit in a way that you have not known before. Do you want that? Are you ready for that? Let us pray.
Now I want to challenge you as heads are bowed and as eyes are closed. Let me remind you that I asked you to pray at the start of my message that God would speak to you. Has He? Has He spoken to you? I believe there are people here tonight that have been searching and seeking after the fullness of the Holy Spirit their whole Christian lives, and they have never entered into the confidence and the assurance that they have been filled. Is tonight your night? There is no equivocation. You know what we are about tonight, you know what we're saying. I'm trying to keep this as uncontroversial as possible - the bottom line is: whatever our interpretations of Scripture might be, or our terminology, we can't do anything without the Holy Spirit. The Christian life is the life of Christ, it cannot be lived in the flesh, it must be lived in the Spirit - and many are living their Christian profession out week by week in the power of the flesh, in a religious spirit, not the Holy Spirit.
Now while heads are bowed and eyes are closed - and I know it's the first night, but let's start as we mean to go on - we're dealing with God, we're not playing around here. This is serious stuff, and God is wanting to birth something, I believe, here. Is there anyone here tonight, just where they are, with their eye only upon God, will stand to their feet and say 'I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit'? Now before you do that, let me say this: you've got to be done with any known sin in your life, you've got to repent, and you've got to surrender - you can't be holding things from the Lord, if you want Him to fill all of your life, there can't be compartments of your life that you're in control of and not Him. So you've got to repent, you've got to surrender, and you've got to believe that this is for you - if you believe, you will receive the things that you have asked of Him. So you've got to believe that this is actually what you need and what God wants for you - and on those three things, will you stand to your feet tonight and say: 'I want to engage with God by faith, and I want to take it at His word'? That's the way to do it - as children we often ask the Lord Jesus into our heart every night of the week, don't we? Why do we do that? Because we have never taken it in the assurance of faith, we're not sure that the Lord has heard us. But there comes a time when we decide: 'Look, I believe His word, 'Him that comes to Me', Jesus said, 'I will never cast out'. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved' - so we make the committal of faith, we commit it to the Lord, and we say 'I'm coming now once and for all, I'm believing You want to receive me, and I'm coming to You now Lord', and we commit it and we receive then. That's the assurance of faith. Will you, tonight, believe that the Lord wants to fill you? Maybe you were filled years ago, and you've grown cold? Will you repent tonight, will you believe, and will you commit it to the Lord, and receive and surrender? Stand to your feet just now, stand to your feet - heads bowed, please, and eyes closed - will anyone stand to their feet tonight, and say: 'There must be more, I know there is more'? Maybe you have been reading about this, maybe you have been praying about it - stand to your feet and say: 'Lord, tonight I want to be filled'. God bless you. God bless you.
I don't know what way you do things here, and I don't mean it in a rude way - I'm not really interested, in one sense, what's convention, I'm interested in you dealing with God. Jesus hanged stark naked on a cross for you, He wasn't ashamed for you, don't you be ashamed to stand to your feet for Him and ask Him to fill you. The early church were standing at Pentecost, they were standing in an open square, they were speaking in tongues, magnifying the mighty works of God - they weren't ashamed! We will see tomorrow night that this is what the Holy Spirit when God does His work His way, He gives us boldness. You have boldness tonight and say: 'Lord Jesus, fill me with Your Spirit'. Is there anyone else before we close this part of our meeting? God bless you. Jesus was filled without measure, and all of us continually need more measures - we're not like Jesus, we need more measures of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and I need more.
Let me help these people standing before we sing our final hymn. Would you just pray with me if you need help - if you don't, pray your own prayer - but if you need help, just come to the Lord and say: 'O God, I come to You', just repeat it from your heart, even take it on your lips, it's important that you take it on your lips. The person beside you doesn't need to hear, but just you whisper it to the Lord: 'O God, I come to You in the name of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank You that on the cross He died for my sin. I ask You to cleanse me afresh, I repent of my sin, and I surrender all that I am to You - spirit, soul, and body; heart, mind, and will - all that I am and all that I have I surrender, Lord. I claim the promised Holy Ghost, the blessed power of Pentecost, to fill me to the uttermost - according to the promise of the Father and the Son, fill me now with the Holy Spirit, and give me the witness that You have come'. Now don't be looking for feelings, this is faith. Say to the Lord: 'I take it by faith, and thank You that You have heard me, and I believe that You have answered me' - you've got to take it by faith - 'I believe that You have answered me, give me the witness that You have come. Amen'. You may be seated.
Praise the Lord. There must be more than this, there is more than this! There is more! So much more! Oh Father, I pray tonight that these folk gathered in this meeting house will know the much more, 'how much more shall your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him'. May they know the 'much more', Lord. For Jesus' sake we pray - and may we all know it this week - for His glory alone, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Union Road Presbyterian Church in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the first recording in his 'When God ACTS!' series, entitled "The Gift Of The Spirit Is Released" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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