I am keenly aware that many denominations have different views on how and when believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. I will leave the doctrinal arguments to the great theologians. However, I think that unless we address some portion of this issue for ourselves, we may miss the very power Christ intended for us to have—that is, the power to live out this life as a true follower of Jesus.
This quote by Jim Cymbala is worth considering: “Is it not time for all of us to do some soul searching and ask ‘Is my life characterized by the power of God being manifested through me by the Holy Spirit so that people will know that God’s not dead?’”
Soul searching—a searching of my soul—to evaluate whether or not I have what it takes to express to the world that God is alive. The only way I can do that is to look at the behavior and the fruits of my life. Do I act like Jesus? Do I look like Jesus? Are the fruits of my life anything like the fruits of His life?
If we study the first disciples of Jesus, we will find they were not much like Him at all—that is until the Holy Spirit arrived on the scene. They were selfish and sought to be the greatest; they slept when He told them to stay awake; Peter lied and denied the Lord; Thomas was full of doubt; they were all cowards—fleeing when the going got tough. What we see are regular human beings, who loved Jesus and wanted to be like Him, but didn’t have the power to do so.
Then the Holy Spirit came and we see very different disciples—now willing to stand on the street corner and preach the gospel, risking their lives to tell the world about the wonderful life-changing salvation they had received. They went to jail, endured threatening, beatings, and eventually death for their Savior. So something happened to them, regardless of how, when or where it happened.
Looking at the earlier version of followers, we don’t see much of anything that manifests power. Yet, looking at those same followers after the Holy Spirit came—we see much power. Things began to happen; people received their message and thousands were saved; others were miraculously healed; in fact, these same disciples were accused of filling Jerusalem with their doctrine!
So what about my life—does anyone see much power coming from me? Some receive my message, but few get saved; no one has been healed, and I’ve never been accused of filling my city with my doctrine. But there has to be some evidence somewhere. It seems in my best interest to examine whether or not I have received the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised—somehow, some way, and at some time!
Laying all doctrinal questions aside of when, where, and how—the question I should be concerned about is this: Do I have what it takes to tell the world that God’s not dead?
If we dare, a trip to the examination table might reveal if, in fact, we have received the Holy Spirit. Some folks in Acts 19:2 said, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” I fear this could also be the answer from some Jesus followers today. The controversial subject of the Holy Spirit is not taught, talked about, or even mentioned in many churches. He is often ignored, misunderstood, or taken for granted. Unfortunately, those are the very reasons we see so little of His power in our lives and in our churches.
This story about Dwight L. Moody, in his early days of ministry, speaks to this issue. He was somewhat successful, yet his ministry was hindered. He drew crowds, but had few results. He tells that one day he came out of a service in New York and was getting into a carriage to go to another service when an old man with white, wind-blown hair called out to him. The old man put his bony finger in Moody’s face and said, “Young man, when you speak again, honor the Holy Ghost!” It was about six months before God revealed to him what the old man had meant by those words—that he was entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit. He said, “I seldom stand before a great audience where I don’t see that old man, with his outstretched finger, and hear his voice, “Honor the Holy Ghost.” And we know the rest of the story—Moody went on to be one of the most powerful preachers America has ever known.1
Let us ask ourselves: Do we have the Holy Spirit? Do we know what it means to honor the Holy Spirit? What difference does it make, if any? Does it have anything to do with how much the Holy Spirit is manifested through our lives?” Ah ha, some soul searching is in order, don’t you think? ~ Janie Kellogg
1V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1960, Pg. 100