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The Day of Pentecost

(Acts 2:1-4, 37-47)

Lesson 2 -- second quarter 2001
March 11, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Is the filling of the Holy Spirit something to be sought?

I do not believe we need to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit. I believe the Father gives the Spirit to those who surrender to the Son. In other words, our covenant with the Godhead brings the Spirit into our lives. As Christians we do not need to seek the Holy Spirit; He has already been given to us.

However, there is another dimension to this issue. As we mature in our relationship with Jesus, we discover areas of our lives to which we have not given Him full and free access. We need to seek out those areas and allow Him that kind of access. In that sense, we do need to seek further filling of the Spirit. Actually, though, our real pursuit is a more complete surrender to His Lordship. A more abundant filling will naturally result from that surrender.

If you are one who pleads with God to fill you or fill you more with His Spirit, I challenge you to take the surrender approach instead. Ask God to show you areas of your life which you have not yet yielded unconditionally to Him. Then when He answers those prayers, yield those areas to Him...unconditionally. Only under such circumstances will you know the greater filling of His Spirit. You see, God's Spirit does not force His way into your life. You must open all the doors and invite Him in. Just never forget that He doesn't enter anyone's life as a guest; He enters only as Lord!

How do I know I have received the Holy Spirit?

This question has bugged and puzzled many folks. In fact, it still does. They crave some sort of divine assurance and manifestation. They want to be able to point to a definite experience as proof that they have received God's Spirit. I can understand that easily enough, so I don't necessarily fault them for that mind set.

Unfortunately, many people do what seems to be the obvious thing: They look at certain events in the early church in order to establish what that confirming experience needs to be. For instance, they read in Acts 2:4 that "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues." From that and similar passages they conclude that unless a Christian has spoken in tongues, he has not received the Holy Spirit.

The fact is, though, that the Biblical record has only a few isolated cases of people speaking in tongues upon receiving the Holy Spirit. So I do not believe that God gives everyone the gift of tongues in order to prove that the Spirit has been given. Otherwise it would seem Paul got it all backwards in 1 Corinthians 14:19 when he affirmed, "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding...than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." It is also instructive to notice that 1 Corinthians 12:10 does not say, "to everyone divers kinds of tongues."

So, how do we know we or anyone else has received the Holy Spirit? Allow me a weak illustration. I have a hard time distinguishing lemon trees from orange trees. But I have a sure-fire way of eventually identifying such trees. No, I don't wait around for someone to put special signs on these trees. I simply wait till the trees bear fruit. Then I know a lemon tree from an orange tree!

I have no other way of knowing if I or anyone else has received the Holy Spirit. But I need no other way. This method of discernment works amply well. Remember, the Master Himself declared, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16).

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